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Winona Lake, Indiana 46590 

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Volume 1 No 1 Spring 1980 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Editorial Board 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 


John J. Davis 


William Male 


Editorial Committee 
John C. Whitcomb 


D. Wayne Knife 

Associate Editor, 
Old Testament 

Charles R. Smith 

Associate Editor, 

John A. Sproule 

Associate Editor, 
New Testament 

Production Committee 

James Eisenbraun 

Managing Editor 

Donald L. Fowler 

Book Review Editor 

Weston W. Fields 


Grace Theological Journal is published twice annually. Subscription rates are: $7.50/ 
one year, $13.00/ two years, $18.00/ three years, payable in U.S. funds. 

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent to Grace Theological Journal, Box 318, 
Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. All articles should be type- 
written, double-spaced, on one side of the page only, and should conform to the 
requirements of the Journal of Biblical Literature style sheet; see JBL 95 (1976) 331-46. 
One exception should be noted, namely, that GTJ prefers the use of the original scripts 
for Greek and Hebrew, in contradistinction to JBL. 

Inquiries concerning subscriptions should be addressed to Grace Theological Journal, 
Box 373, Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. 

Copyright ® 1980 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 1 No 1 Spring 1980 


Editorial 3-5 

A Time to Teach 7-17 


The Test of Abraham: Genesis 22:1-19 19-35 


The Problem of the Mustard Seed 37-42 


Interpretive Challenges Relating to Habakkuk 2:4b . . . 43-69 


The Apologetical Value of the Self- Witness 

of Scripture 71-76 


A Theology of Pseudoprophets: A Study in 
Jeremiah 77-96 


Project Gramcord: A Report 97-99 


Book Reviews, Collected Essays, and 

Book Announcements 100-126 

Books Received 125-126 


James L. Boyer 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

James M. Grier 

Cedarville College, Cedarville, OH 45314 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John I. Lawlor 

Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, PA 18411 

Ronald E. Manahan 

Grace College, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John A. Sproule 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John C. Whitcomb 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

George J. Zemek, Jr. 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 


The Grace Theological Journal begins, with this issue, its career 
as a medium for publicizing the theological convictions and insights 
of the faculty and friends of Grace Theological Seminary. For more 
than forty years the blessing of God has been clearly evident in the 
growing influence of this graduate school. The impact of its spiritual 
testimony and of its theological distinctives has been felt in many 
parts of the world where nearly two thousand alumni are proclaiming 
the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is in acknowledgment of God's 
gracious providence that the seminary faculty is seeking to meet the 
growing need for a scholarly and thoroughly biblical theological 

It was exactly twenty years ago this spring that the more humble 
predecessor of the Grace Theological Journal began its thirteen-year 
career (a list of available issues is obtainable upon request). Several of 
the editors of the old Grace Journal serve on the present editorial 
staff as well. But the difference between the two journals is profound. 
A totally new format, which compares favorably with other major 
journals of our day, is perhaps the most obvious difference. There is 
also a more realistic financial structure, advanced typesetting and 
publishing equipment not previously available, a much larger con- 
stituency, and especially the availability of a faculty and staff twice as 
large as in 1960. 

One level of quality, however, has not changed. The seminary 
faculty is still totally committed to the proposition that God has 
spoken infallibly to men through the medium of his written Word, 
the Bible, absolutely inerrant in the autographs. Not only is the Bible 
true down to the very "jot and tittle," it is also basically clear and 
understandable. No one will ever be able to say to the final Judge of 
mankind, "I would have trusted you and obeyed you, but I could not 
understand your Word!" 

Among the deep theological convictions shared by the faculty 
and constituency of Grace Theological Seminary are these: (1) the 
world was directly created by God in six literal days apart from any 
evolutionary processes; (2) through willful rebellion against God, 
mankind has fallen into a state of total spiritual depravity and can 
only be saved from an eternal hell by the grace of God through 
personal faith in the substitutionary sacrifice and bodily resurrection 
of our Lord Jesus Christ; (3) God's program for the Church Age 


(which began at the day of Pentecost and will end at the pre- 
tribulation rapture) is outlined in the great commission of Christ and 
is accomplished through the instrumentality of the local church; and 
(4) God's covenant promises to Israel will be literally fulfilled during 
Christ's thousand-year reign on earth following his Second Coming. 
Thus, in spite of certain similarities (such as justification through 
faith based upon the merits of the blood of Christ), the structure and 
functions of Israel and the Church are quite distinct. (For a more 
complete statement of doctrinal distinctives, see the Covenant of 
Faith of Grace Theological Seminary and the various position state- 
ments of the seminary on controversial issues.) 

The faculty believes that these positions are clearly taught in 
Scripture. However, it is recognized and emphasized that spiritual 
truths cannot be known by "the natural man" (1 Cor 2:14), and that 
the Scripture provides its own guidelines for interpreting its message. 
Therefore, one of the basic purposes of a theological journal must be 
the elucidation of the exact meaning of Holy Scripture in its original 
languages so that all obstacles may be removed that would in any 
way suppress or quench the Spirit of God in his unique work in men's 
hearts. Truth from God and about God is the only frame of reference 
within which human beings can live meaningfully; but such truth can 
come only from the Bible, not from existential or charismatic 

Finally, the editors of this new venture in theological journalism 
are committed to the proposition that revealed truth cannot be 
perpetuated through compromise and compromise cannot be avoided 
without a clear recognition, identification, and warning against error. 
This important guideline was clearly stated in an editorial written by 
Alva J. McClain, founder and first president of Grace Theological 
Seminary, in the first issue of the Grace Journal (Spring, 1960): 

The editors and sponsors of this publication will aim to follow the 
apostolic injunction to "preach (herald) the Word," presenting exposi- 
tions of this Word in a positive and constructive manner. But they will 
not hesitate, as need may arise, to "reprove" and "rebuke" (2 Tim 4:2). 
To do this is - never a pleasant task, but it is a solemn obligation laid 
upon all who minister the Word of God. The Apostle Paul, when 
occasion demanded, not only denounced without reservation heresy 
and apostasy, but also did not hesitate to name the names of the guilty 
Among these, for example, were "Hymenaeus and Philetus" who 
taught that the "resurrection is past" (2 Tim 2:17-18). Certainly the 
Apostle in this case might have assumed the attitude, fashionable in 
some circles, that no amount of denial or heresy could in any wise 
disturb or overthrow the truth; and that, therefore, both the men and 
their heresy should be treated with lofty silence. However, although 
Paul assures us in this very epistle that "the foundation of God 


standeth sure" (2 Tim 2:19), he was also concerned about the souls of 
men. To know that no amount of heresy about the resurrection could 
overthrow the resurrection, was one thing. But the baneful effects of 
the heresy upon its hearers was something else: in this case to "over- 
throw the faith of some" (2:18). And this leads the Apostle to rebuke 
the propagandist by name, not for the sake of polemics, but for the 
sake of human souls. 

For the accomplishment of these goals, the editors will be 
soliciting the contributions of Christian scholars beyond the parame- 
ters of its own constituency. This is basically a theological journal; 
therefore, articles and book reviews that touch on technical issues in 
exegesis, linguistics, history, archaeology, science, and philosophy 
must contribute directly to our deeper understanding of God through 
the greater illumination of his Word. It is our fervent prayer that the 
Son of God, our Savior and Lord, may be glorified directly or 
indirectly on every page of this publication, and that it will be used by 
him for the illumination and encouragement of his people until Christ 
comes for his Church. 


Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

Now is the time to teach. America is shouting this at us in scores 
of ways. During 1979 Congress increased federal aid to students 
with the passing of the Middle Income Student Assistance Act which 
increases government funds for education nearly twofold. In addi- 
tion, the states and territories spent another $828 million on student 
aid in 1978-79. 2 

Legislation recently passed Congress, and was signed into law by 
President Carter, to establish a cabinet-level Department of Educa- 
tion, instead of the past arrangement with an Office of Education 
within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The 
purpose is to give education a higher visibility and priority in the 
federal organizational structure, rather than having its interests con- 
fused amid the welter of other programs administered by HEW. 
Many independent institutions are not enthusiastic about this pros- 
pect, having learned from experience that increased government 
attention is not usually a blessing. The fact remains, however, that 
America is saying, "It is time to teach." 

Not only at the federal level is this emphasis seen; the states are 
also deeply involved. Scholarship programs exist in almost every state 
to assist young people to obtain higher education. At the same time 
there is a growing concern that real teaching must be accomplished. 
The movement is growing that competency testing be incorporated, at 
least at the secondary level, before graduation be granted. 

Meanwhile, parents are developing a growing suspicion that in 
spite of modern and expensive buildings, the latest in equipment, and 
every conceivable gadget, genuine teaching is not always accom- 
plished. "Back to the basics" is the cry in many circles. One is 
confronted with the disturbing fact that the 3 R's are rapidly being 
replaced by the 6 R's: Remedial Reading, Remedial 'Riting, and 
Remedial 'Rithmetic. Teaching must involve learning; if students are 
not learning, then we are not really teaching. Parents are telling us, 
"It is time to teach." 

'A. C. Roark, "States Face Pressure from Mid Income Students," The Chronicle 
of Higher Education 17 (Nov 27, 1978) 4-5. 
2 Ibid. 


The Christian church must also recognize that it is the time to 
teach. In this context teaching is defined as that function which 
instructs people in the Word of God as clearly, accurately, and 
thoroughly as possible so that learning is achieved. It is assumed that 
the Word of God is the basic context of instruction and that our 
responsibility is to teach the whole counsel of God, not just certain 
favorite sections. It is also assumed that the Bible is the Word of God 
and without error, and thus its teachings are fully authoritative for 
man and especially for believers. For at least three reasons, it is abso- 
lutely essential that Christians everywhere recognize that now is the 
time to teach. 


Christ himself was a teacher 

1. This was the name by which he was most frequently called. It is 
common today to find our Lord referred to as the carpenter of 
Nazareth or to be thought of as an almost mystical figure, but most 
of the time people called him "Teacher." Only once in the Bible was 
Jesus called a carpenter (Mark 6:3), although he was elsewhere called 
a carpenter's son (Matt 13:55). 

By far the most common way in which Jesus was addressed was 
as "Teacher" or "Master." Both of these are translations of the 
common word for "teacher" (5i5doKaXoc;). When John the Baptist 
pointed out Jesus to two of his followers, they spoke to him with 
these words, "Teacher, where dwellest thou?" (John 1:38). When the 
Pharisees were critical of Jesus' disregard of the traditions of the 
elders, they said to his disciples, "Why eateth your Teacher with 
publicans and sinners?" (Matt 9:11). When Nicodemus, that eminent 
Pharisee of Jerusalem, came to Jesus by night, he said, "we know you 
are a teacher come from God" (John 3:2). When some terrified 
disciples wakened Jesus during a storm at sea, their first words were, 
"Teacher, carest thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4:38). A rich young 
ruler one day asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit 
eternal life?" (Luke 18:18). An agitated father with a demon-possessed 
child said to Jesus, "Teacher, I beseech thee, look upon my son" 
(Luke 9:38). The grieving Martha summoned her sister Mary with the 
words, "The Teacher is come and calleth for thee" (John 1 1:28). Jesus 
himself said to the disciples, "Ye call me Teacher and Lord, and ye 
say well for so I am" (John 13:13). If we may judge by the names 
people gave him, they did not think of Jesus primarily as a former 
carpenter, or an evangelist, or an orator, or even as a prophet, 
although he was all of those things. They saw him as a teacher — one 
whose primary activity involved instructing his hearers in a message 
of truth from God. 


2. Furthermore, Jesus was continually engaged in teaching. This was 
undoubtedly why he was given the title. The general pattern of his 
ministry found him "teaching in their synagogues and preaching the 
gospel of the kingdom" (Matt 4:23). His teaching was impressive, not 
only because of its content but because of its authoritative tone — so 
different from the scribal practice of merely citing the pronounce- 
ments of distinguished rabbis from the past. On the contrary, Jesus 
"taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt 

He did his teaching often when circumstances were adverse. The 
temple authorities had been hostile to Jesus since the beginning of his 
ministry when he had driven out the merchants and the money- 
changers. Yet at the close of his public career, after he had cleansed 
the temple a second time, he said to those who arrested him in the 
garden, "I sat daily with you teaching in the temple and ye laid no 
hold on me" (Matt 26:55). 

He taught people wherever he could find them. He did not 
require a classroom or a pulpit. He taught crowds by the seaside in 
Galilee (Mark 4:1). The parable of the sower was given in such a 
setting. He taught great crowds publicly, and sometimes he taught his 
disciples privately (Mark 9:31). Whether on a mountainside (Matt 
5:2), or sitting in a boat (Luke 5:3), or lecturing in a synagogue (Luke 
6:6), or merely walking along the road (Luke 13:22), teaching was the 
outstanding characteristic of Jesus during the days of his ministry. 

Jesus told us why he concentrated his ministry on teaching. He 
had come as the embodiment of the Word of God, to bring the 
message of God to men. The absolutely crucial nature of that message 
explains why Jesus concentrated his ministry upon it. He said, "He 
that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath 
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed 
from death unto life" (John 5:24). He emphasized the unique source 
of his message: "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" 
(John 8:38). He knew that the message he brought could transform 
lives even after he was gone. That was why he concentrated on 
teaching. He did not build any structures during those brief three 
years. He established no complex organization. He cared not a bit for 
the trappings which we commonly associate with power and success. 
Instead He was continually teaching. 

Thirty years after the Ascension, Christians still remembered 
Jesus for his deeds and especially for his teaching. When Luke wrote 
the Book of Acts, he observed to Theophilus that our Lord's brief 
ministry could be characterized as that which "Jesus began both to do 
and teach" (Acts 1:1). 


Christ commanded his followers to teach 

Even while his own ministry was going on, Jesus trained his 
disciples and sent them out to teach others. They went out in pairs, 
and later reported to him the results of their teaching (Mark 6:7, 30). 
The content of truth which was being conveyed was so important that 
it did not matter whether everyone heard it directly from the lips of 
Jesus. Those whom he had taught and commissioned could also be 
effective conveyors of his message. 

As our Lord prepared the apostles for his departure, he made it 
clear that they were expected to teach what they had been taught. The 
Holy Spirit would refresh their memories regarding what they had 
heard Jesus teach (John 14:26). They must give testimony to what 
they had learned from Jesus (John 15:27). 

This responsibility to teach was brought into clear focus follow- 
ing the resurrection, when Jesus gave the great commission: "Go 
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them 
to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, 
even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:19-20). The Christian faith was 
not merely an enlistment program, but a meaningful commitment. It 
was to be characterized by the clear teaching of God's truth which 
truly transforms lives and is sufficient for every need because it is the 
Word of God. 

The importance of teaching in the program of Jesus is seen not 
only in his own practice and in the Commission he gave his disciples, 
but also in his action subsequent to the Ascension. As the Lord of the 
Church, he not only bestowed the Holy Spirit upon believers in 
conjunction with the promise of the Father, but he also gave the key 
spiritual gifts of leadership which would insure the success of the 
church. In Eph 4:11-12, it is recorded: "And He gave some as 
apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as 
pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of 
service, to the building up of the body of Christ." These words are 
inscribed on a bronze plaque by the stairway in the library at Grace 
Seminary, where they confront the student every time he climbs the 
stairs to study. In this Scripture passage, the function of teaching is 
woven inseparably with that of pastoring, suggesting that it is a basic 
and essential function of the ministry at the local church level. Christ 
designed it that way, and he insured its performance by the sort of 
leadership gifts he provided. It will be shown later that these leaders 
were not the only ones who were to do any teaching. Nevertheless, 
they were to be the specialists who were particularly gifted and who 
could train the rest. 


There is also another reason why we must recognize that it is "a 
time to teach" if we would be biblical Christians, looking to the 
Scripture for our rule of faith and practice. 


Christians look to the apostles, not only as the eyewitnesses and 
personal companions of our Lord in his ministry, but also because 
they were especially chosen by him and commissioned to be his 
witnesses in a unique sense. Jesus said to them: "Ye also shall bear 
witness because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 
15:27). They were Christ's authorized witnesses. The New Testament 
is the written testimony of the apostles. The apostle Paul wrote of 
Christian believers as being "built upon the foundation of the apostles 
and prophets" (Eph 2:20). Although many interpret this as meaning 
"the foundation which the apostles laid — namely, Christ," it is 
possible that he meant that in some sense the apostles and prophets 
provided the foundation through their teaching and writing, with 
Christ being the cornerstone, the key feature in the structure. This 
would harmonize with Rev 21:14, where the apostles' names are 
inscribed on twelve foundation stones of the wall of the new Jeru- 
salem. Hence it is crucial if our faith and practice is to be biblical that 
we know how the apostles understood Jesus, and what they are 
saying to us. 

They did teaching themselves 

The Book of Acts emphasizes this again and again, and the 
teaching involved not only evangelism. The momentous events of 
Pentecost were followed immediately by a regular program of teach- 
ing the converts. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine 
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and prayers" (Acts 2:42). 

In Acts 4, the very first persecution against the early church 
broke out because Peter and John were teaching people in the 
precincts of the temple (Acts 4:1-2). Even though they were com- 
manded to desist from all further teaching (Acts 4:18), this did not 
deter them from carrying out what they believed the great commis- 
sion required of them. Later we find them once again in the temple by 
a direct order of an angel, and "they entered into the temple early in 
the morning, and taught" (Acts 5:21). They were still there teaching 
some hours later when soldiers came to arrest them (Acts 5:25), and 
the high priest eventually accused them of filling Jerusalem with their 
teaching (Acts 5:28). Harassment, imprisonments, even beatings did not 
stop them. "Every day in the temple and from house to house, they 
kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:42). 


This strong emphasis on teaching the Word of God was not only 
characteristic of the Jerusalem church but of other churches as well. 
In the church at Antioch, Barnabas and Saul taught the converts for 
a year (Acts 11:26), and later prophets and teachers were prominent 
in the ministry there (Acts 13:1). This careful instruction in the Word 
of God undoubtedly was basic in the development of the spiritual 
strength of these churches. It was not a mere afterthought, nor a 
luxury to be provided for a few interested converts who showed 
unusual promise. Teaching the Word of God was the normal pro- 
cedure for all converts all the time. An example is the church at 
Thessalonica. The two Thessalonian epistles were written to that 
congregation just a few months after the church was founded with 
new converts. The amount of spiritual understanding which Paul 
assumes they had as he wrote is obviously considerable as we learn 
from reflecting upon those letters. Yet Paul had been with them a 
very short time, perhaps as little as three weeks (Acts 17:7). He must 
have wasted no time in teaching them immediately upon their 

It was Paul's testimony to the leaders of the church at Ephesus 
that his teaching pattern was to declare "the whole counsel of God" 
(Acts 20:27). He rode no hobbies, followed no fads, ignored no 
contexts. He taught God's truth in its total biblical perspective. 

Furthermore, Paul seems to have regarded his teaching ministry 
as the most strenuous of tasks. He wrote to the Colossians that 
"admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom" 
was his responsibility and goal so that he might bring every man to 
maturity (Col 1:28). To do this he continually labored to the point of 
weariness, striving with all the vigor that an athlete must exert if he is 
to be a serious contender (Col 1:29). He did it because he regarded 
teaching as crucial in carrying out Christ's commission. 

They stressed teaching -for the leaders they trained 

In the list of qualifications which Paul prepared for the selection 
of overseers for the church, one of the stipulations was that he be 
"apt to teach" or "able to teach." The reason is obvious. The basic 
function of an overseer is to direct the affairs of the church in the 
light of God's revealed truth, and that involves instructing others in 
the content of that revelation. Whether he be teaching sinners the way 
of salvation, nurturing Christians in their spiritual growth, or admon- 
ishing straying believers, he is essentially a teacher of God's truth. 

The importance of teaching was also stressed in the various 
exhortations that were given to leaders already in office. In Rom 
12:7, Paul exhorted those with the gift of teaching to concentrate on 
their teaching. He urged Timothy amid his heavy duties at Ephesus 


to give particular attention to reading, to exhortation, and to teach- 
ing (1 Tim 4:13). He reminded the church that even though all elders 
were expected to be able teachers, those who excelled by their 
diligence at the task of preaching and teaching should be given 
double honor (1 Tim 5:17). 

Furthermore, as Paul faced the end of his own ministry and 
contemplated the unfinished task stretching out before the church, his 
counsel for the future was that present leaders should give special 
concern to training new ones. He also indicated that the very heart of 
their ministry would be their ability to teach others. "The things 
which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, 
these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also" 
(2 Tim 2:2). 

They expected every Christian to be involved in teaching 

The Epistle to the Hebrews explains that all Christians, after the 
passing of a reasonable length of time during which spiritual growth 
should be taking place, should be capable of teaching others. The fact 
that some were deficient merely called attention to the principle that 
was being violated by their immaturity. "For though by this time you 
ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you 
the elementary principles of the oracles of God" (Heb 5:12). 

This does not mean that every Christian is a specially gifted 
teacher or that all should aspire to be official teachers. James 
counseled the church, "Let not many of you become teachers, my 
brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment" 
(James 3:1). Paul explained to the Corinthians, "God hath set some 
in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers." 
He then went on to say, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all 
teachers?" (1 Cor 12:28-29). The point is clear: not every one has been 
gifted by God to be a teacher in the formal and official sense. 
Nevertheless every Christian is responsible to be a learner with 
sufficient achievement so that he can share God's truth with others. 
When we bear testimony to God's saving grace to unsaved friends 
and neighbors, and explain what God has done for us, this is a form 
of teaching and is expected from all of us. 

It is clear, therefore, that the apostles understood from Jesus' 
own practice and from his order to his followers that Christians were 
responsible to teach. Inasmuch as the apostles were Christ's hand- 
picked messengers and the New Testament is their authorized and 
inspired interpretation of Christ and his message, their instruction to 
us is an additional reason for us to know that it is "time to teach." 

There is yet a third reason why it is time to teach. 



The frightening rise of cults 

In recent years the dramatic rise in religious cults, many of them 
proclaiming themselves as Christian and preying upon members of 
Christian churches, points to the need for more thorough teaching of 
the Word of God. 

When a Jim Jones, operating his Peoples' Temple in California 
under the respectable umbrella of a recognized Protestant denomina- 
tion, can mesmerize a congregation, build it up to 20,000 members, 
brag about his sexual prowess with women followers, and then lead 
900 people to a plantation in Guyana and eventually to a revolting 
mass suicide from which the shock waves have not yet settled, 3 
Christians must surely recognize that it is time to teach. One is 
reminded of the apostolic warning of those "holding to a form of 
godliness, although they have denied its power . . . among them are 
those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed 
down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never 
able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:5-7). 

When Maharishi Mahesh Yogi can introduce his practice of 
Transcendental Meditation into America with such success that in 
two decades it can achieve respectability in the highest government 
and academic circles, it is time for Christians to teach. Maharishi 
International University, taking over the 100 year-old campus of 
former Parsons College in Iowa, now has 800 students. It was granted 
candidate status in 1975 and will apply for full accreditation in 1980. 
Although its students go to bed early, use no alcohol or drugs at their 
weekend parties, and attend classes frequently in suits and dresses 
rather than jeans, some other practices and claims are more disturb- 
ing. Everyone on campus meditates 20 minutes each morning and 
evening. Advanced meditators gather by the hundreds in a fieldhouse, 
where they are said to levitate and demonstrate other super-normal 
abilities. Reporters are not allowed to observe it lest the process take 
on a "circus atmosphere," so say university officials. 

When Mormonism publishes a 12-page color insert in Readers 
Digest, advertising its viewpoints in a highly appealing fashion, it is 
time for orthodox Christianity to teach what true Christian faith 
really is. In that enticing booklet, the emphasis upon home and 
family, self-reliance, industry, personal responsibility, temperance, 

'"Nightmare in Jonestown," Time 112 (Dec 4, 1978) 16-30. 
L. Middleton, "Meditation a Way of Life at Maharishi University," The Chronicle 
of Higher Education 18 (May 14, 1979) 3-5. 
5 Reader's Digest 114 (Apr 1979). 


service, and faith are all innocent-sounding affirmations of Christian 
ideals. The poorly taught are being snared by the thousands. 

When the "Moonies" with their Unification Church promote 
themselves as a Christian organization, infiltrating neighborhoods 
with their propaganda, and staging rallies and demonstrations even 
on the steps of government, as this writer witnessed recently in 
Washington, it is a time to teach what God's Word has to say about 
salvation and prophecy and Christian living. When impressionable 
young people are subjected to brainwashing by the Moonies and no 
longer can be reached by their Christian parents, it is time to teach 
the Word of God. 

The growing appeal of sensationalism 

The natural human penchant for excitement has not been over- 
looked by various religious practitioners. Paul spoke of those in his 
day who were "peddling the word of God" (2 Cor 2:17). So today 
every part of the country has its religious opportunists vying with one 
another to build a following, utilizing every claim and gimmick to 
prey upon the unwary. Sad to say, a large part of their support and 
following comes from people who originally were from orthodox 
churches. Because their spiritual growth has been so shallow, they are 
attracted by sensational claims of supernatural healings or expe- 
riences, and like infants whose attention can be diverted by any 
glittering object, they flock after the big noise, the flashy claims, and 
the glamorized theatrics. 

Now is the time to teach the stupendous truths of the Word of 
God. When people are impressed with the sensationalism of religious 
hucksters, we must have been less than impressive with the teachings 
of God's truth. The fault, however, does not lie with the message, but 
with the ineffective way it has been taught. Nothing less than a clear, 
accurate, and convincing instruction will do. God's revelation to man 
in Scripture with its message of transforming grace will create a 
sensation when it is clearly taught. Now is the time to teach! 

Our people are not as biblically grounded as they should be 

From time to time I have heard it said in evangelical circles that 
our people are well-taught in biblical truth, perhaps even overfed; 
what is needed now is to put that knowledge into operation. This is 
usually a well-meant statement, made in an effort to get believers 
active in Christian witnessing. Such statements, however, imply a 
false contrast. Knowledge and action are not opposing forces. Chris- 
tians do not become slothful in their witness because they know too 
much spiritual truth. On the contrary, their problem is that they have 


not been taught enough. They have not learned what our Lord is 
telling them about their glorious prospects, their present responsi- 
bilities, the provisions Christ has made for them by his Spirit, and the 
joyous experience that can be theirs as they walk in the light of his 

If the early church, so effective in its witness to a needy but 
hostile world, found it necessary to continue regularly in the apostles' 
teaching, dare we do any less? 

Place the blame where you will, but most careful observers today 
are not noting any trend toward deeper biblical and spiritual knowl- 
edge among twentieth-century Christians on the whole. Understand- 
ing God's provisions for man in predestination, justification, and 
sanctification is minimal in many circles. The implications of the 
present debate over the inerrancy of Scripture are hazy in many 
minds, even though the tragic consequences of a wrong turn here are 
amply demonstrated in church history. The biblical teaching on sin, 
the character of God, the world, God's prophetic plan, and the Spirit- 
controlled life are only academic matters to some, far removed from 
the real world. The sort of moral standards we tolerate for ourselves 
does not always reflect the tenor of biblical teaching. If someone 
would attempt to discover what Christian standards are supposed to 
be from an examination of the books we read, the music we enjoy, 
the TV we watch, the recreation in which we indulge, the way we 
spend our money, and the way we use our time, would his conclu- 
sions match up with biblical teaching? Christians, it is time to teach 
the whole counsel of God. 

The hunger for biblical instruction is still present 

Although the superficial attractions of the world often tempt us 
to compete in kind, whatever short-term gains may occur are usually 
just that. We must not sell our spiritual birthright for a mess of 

The evidence is clear, not only that the teaching of the Word of 
God is the only final answer to the needs of mankind but also that a 
genuine hunger for it still exists. The popularity of home Bible classes 
testifies to this hunger. One does not always need a formal setting and 
professional leadership. Godly men and women, mature in their faith 
and instructed by effective leaders in their churches, are having an 
extremely helpful influence by opening their homes and ministering 
to hungry hearts in this day of spiritual confusion. 

The amazing growth of the Christian school movement in 
America is also clear evidence that a genuine desire for biblical 
instruction is not diminishing today. With God and prayer and the 
Bible largely excluded from public education, the Christian school is 


rising to fill this need. Some estimates indicate that as many as 50% 
of the children in some areas will be enrolled in Christian schools in 
the not-too-distant future. 

This hunger for biblical instruction is not limited just to Bible 
study alone. Those who take the Bible seriously understand that 
God's revelation provides a world-view that affects every area of 
human knowledge. Consequently a Christian philosophy of educa- 
tion should permeate every discipline of a truly Christian school. At 
Grace College and Seminary, for example, there is an attempt to 
make an effective integration of faith and learning in every part of the 
curriculum. Not only in the Seminary and in the Bible department of 
the college, but in psychology, literature, history, and every other 
discipline, the contribution of biblical truth is an integral part of the 
education. And the hunger is there. Christian colleges and seminaries 
that forthrightly declare their stand on Scripture and pursue it 
vigorously are generally healthier today than many of their counter- 
parts who have allowed their Christian philosophy to weaken. 

Yes, it is a time to teach. There has never been a better time. The 
issues are crucial, and the need was never greater. The climate today 
is more open than ever, and training is available for all who desire it. 

But we must do it. Christ commanded us to teach. The apostles 
repeated the exhortation and it is absolutely vital that we teach the 
Word of God if our faith is to be kept strong and be extended to 
those in need. The Bible is the objective base which supports our faith 
and gives it proper direction. We must teach it, therefore, to our- 
selves, to our families, in our churches, and to hungry hearts every- 
where. The admonition of Prov 7:1-3 should find ready acceptance by 
each of us: "My son, keep my words and store up my commands 
within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teach- 
ings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them 
on the tablet of your heart." 

GENESIS 22:1-19 


THE incredible story of the ordeal of Abraham and Isaac begins, 
presumably, with Abraham sojourning in the land of the Philis- 
tines (Gen 21:34) and concludes with Abraham, the main character in 
this drama, returning to Beer-sheba with the two young men and 
Isaac. 1 

The pathos of this account is unequaled by any other portion of 
the Abraham sequence and perhaps the entire Pentateuchal tradition. 
The reader emotes with Abraham, for the entire story radiates great 
tensions, strong reactions, and human emotions. Skinner felt this, 
for he remarks that parts of it "... can hardly be read without 
tears." 2 

The manner in which the narrative has been put together evi- 
dences great literary artistry. Two factors unite to make the case. 
First, the use of repetitious statements seems intentional. The use of 
one such repetitious statement in v 1 ("'Abraham!' And he said 
'Here I am.'") and v 11 ("'Abraham, Abraham!' And he said, 'Here 
I am.'") naturally divides the story into two general movements. The 
use of another "... your son, your only son ..." used three times 
(vv 2, 12, 16) tends to increase the gravity of the situation. Such redun- 
dancy creates great tension; it seems as if God almost strains to 
remind Abraham that the stakes are high. Such obvious repetition, it 
seems, is premeditated, perhaps for the purpose of raising the anxiety 
level of the reader. Still another, "So the two of them walked on 
together" (vv 6 and 8), puts the reader off; it also heightens the 
tension that builds toward the climax. 

Second, there is a certain symmetry to the story which is, in part, 
achieved through the use of both triplets and tensions/resolutions. 
With respect to the former, the imperatives "take," "go," and "offer" 
(v 2) are a case in point. Vv 3, 6, and 10 are further examples. 

'The text is actually silent on the matter of Isaac's return to Beer-sheba with 
Abraham and the two young men; however, later episodes in the Abraham cycle have 
Abraham and Isaac together, a point which at least suggests his return with the rest. 

2 J. Skinner, Genesis (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1910) 330. 


Furthermore, the blessing formula of vv 17 and 18 appears as a 
triplet. With respect to the tensions/resolutions, several examples are 
apparent. The "only son" at the beginning is contrasted by the 
"greatly multiplied" seed at the conclusion. The initial command of 
God underscores the fact that the son whom Abraham was being 
called upon to offer was his only son. In one sense that was not true, 
for Ishmael was also his son. But he was the only son through whom 
the promises already given to Abraham could be realized. As the 
story closes, Abraham receives an emphatic enunciation of blessing 
(n3"lX n3*ini) which would result in his "only son" being multiplied 
into descendants that would number "as the stars of the heavens and 
the sand which is on the seashore" (v 17). The text supplies the key 
element to the transition; v 16 says: ". . . because you have done this 
thing, and have not withheld your son. . . ." The nature of the 
experience is initially described as a "test"; at the end it is turned into 
a "blessing." The crisis point of the story (v 10) divides the two 
motifs. The first half (vv 1-9) lays an emphasis upon the "testing" 
motif; the use of the term HD3 in v 1 clearly signals this point. The 
^P"]3X ^|"1D of v 17 confirms the blessing motif of the second half. 
There is a sense in which the story begins with a child sacrifice motif, 
but in the second half of the narrative that fades and the concept of 
animal sacrifice surfaces. For this reason, it has been suggested that 
the purpose of the entire account is to present an etiology on animal 
sacrifice, and to set up a prohibition of child sacrifice. 3 

The employment of these various techniques not only improves 
the readability and interest level of the narrative, but also helps to 
generate meaning in one's understanding of the text. This point will 
be further discussed following a closer look at the text itself. 


An acquaintance with the text of the story seems to be the basis 
for an attempt to understand some of the concepts it is intending to 
communicate. The episode of Gen 22:1-19 reads like a two-act play, 
with both a prologue and an epilogue. The literary structure of the 
passage suggests the following arrangement of the material: 

Prologue, 22:1 

Act I: Ordeal/Crisis, 22:2-10 

Scene 1, 22:2-5 

Scene 2, 22:6-10 

C. A. Simpson and W. R. Bowie, "Genesis," 77?? Interpreter's Bible (New York: 
Abingdon-Cokesbury, n.d.), 1. 645. 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 21 

Act II: Resolution, 22:11-18 

Scene 1, 22:11-14 

Scene 2, 22:15-18 
Epilogue, 22:19 

Prologue, 22:1 

That there is a conscious effort on the part of the writer to 
establish relationship between the Abraham cycle up to this point and 
the particular passage in focus seems evident from his opening 
statement: "Now it came about after these things. ..." Its place in 
the saga of Abraham 5 will be discussed later, so further detail is not 
necessary at this point. Suffice it to say that this opening line supplies 
an internal, textual connection to the preceding context, in addition 
to the more literary relationship presented in the later discussion. 

An important observation is made by the writer at the outset of 
the narrative; it is an observation primarily for the benefit of the 
reader. The narrator is careful to explain that what he is about 
to describe represents a "test" (n03) of Abraham. This not only 
informs the reader of an important point, but also seems to give some 
direction to the significance of the story. It is an account of a test of 
Abraham by his God. Testing in regard to what? For what purpose? 
The answers to these questions are to a certain extent inherent within 
the text, and will be considered later. 

While Abraham's response to God's address, seen in v 1, is 
undoubtedly a normal one, its appearance both here and again in 
v 1 1 seems too obvious to be viewed merely as "accidental." As 
previously suggested, it functions as a "formulaic expression" which 
helps to shape the narrative. 

"This is a debated point. Von Rad says that "this narrative ... has only a very loose 
connection with the preceding" (G. von Rad, Genesis; trans. J. H. Marks [OTL; 
revised edition; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1972] 238; hereafter cited as von Rad, 
Genesis). However, Coats remarks: "A patriarchal itinerary scheme provides context 
for this story. . . . Unity with the context derives, however, not simply from structural 
context provided by an itinerary pattern, but of more importance, from unity in theo- 
logical perspective with other Abrahamic tradition" (G. W. Coats, "Abraham's Sacri- 
fice of Faith: A Form-Critical Study of Genesis 22," Int 27 [1973] 392; hereafter cited 
as Coats, "Abraham's Sacrifice"). 

The term "saga" is used here in the sense of an extended series of stories revolving 
around a central figure; cf. R. B. Bjornard, "An Unfortunate Blunder: A Traditio- 
Historical Study of Some Form-Critics' Use of the Word 'Saga'" (unpublished paper 
read at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Nov 18, 1978, at New 
Orleans, LA). 


Act I: Ordeal/Crisis, 22:2-10 

The main body of the narrative reads like a two-act drama, vv 2- 
10 forming the first act which has two scenes, vv 2-5 and vv 6-10. 
Act I, Scene 1 (vv 2-5) conveys the basic instructions given to 
Abraham along with his initial response. In "rapid-fire" succession 
the three imperatives ("take," nj7; "go," f\?\, "offer," 111757711) of v 2 
inform Abraham what it is that God expects of him. This is the test. 
Both the "hard-hitting" style of the divine instructions as well as the 
content of the instructions surface an issue that is perhaps one that 
the story is intended to explore. What is the nature of Abraham's 
God? Twice (cf. Genesis 12) he has instructed Abraham to take 
certain actions which would result in close family ties being broken. 

What is of almost equal amazement is the relative passivity, the 
"cool detachment" with which Abraham is seen to respond. By two 
sets of triads the writer methodically records the calculated actions of 
the patriarch: he "rose early" (DSUJ'T), "saddled his donkey" 
(W'arPI), "took lads" (nj?^), and "split wood" (^T.l), "arose" 
(Dj?»T)~ and "went" COT). 

Upon arriving at a place that was within eyesight of the destina- 
tion (v 4), Abraham utters a statement that is most intriguing: "Stay 
here ... I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return 
to you." The first person plural verbs "worship" and "return to you" 
(rQlttfa'l rnnriUft'l) raise an important question: Was this a hollow, 
evasive comment on Abraham's part, or was it an expression of an 
honest faith which he genuinely possessed, based upon the promises 
which led up to and culminated in the birth of the son whose life was 
now seemingly in jeopardy? Perhaps the reader is to see some 
correlation between the manner in which Abraham responded to the 
divine directive and the statement in question. 

Scene 2 (vv 6-10) of this portion of the narrative brings about an 
intense heightening of the tension; this is accomplished both through 
the development of the sequence of events as well as the various 
literary techniques employed by the writer to describe the sequence of 
events. As now seems characteristic of the writer, another triplet is 
employed in v 6: Abraham "took the wood" (n[? 9 1), "laid it on Isaac" 
(DttPH), and "took . . . the fire and the knife" (nj?*1). The reader is 
then put off by the interlude: "So the two of them walked on 
together." It is a statement which seems designed to continue the 
account, but more so to allow the anxiety level of the reader an 
opportunity to level off momentarily before introducing the next 
build-up of tension. 

There are two possible approaches to the dialogue between 
father and son of vv 7 and 8 — the only recorded conversation between 
Abraham and Isaac in the entire story. The more traditional view 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 23 

takes this, together with the "prediction" of v 5, as an evidence of 
Abraham's growing faith in his God and that he was expressing his 
firm belief that Isaac would either be spared or miraculously raised 
up, a la Heb 11:17-19. As one reviews the complete saga of Abraham, 
it is to be recognized that several indications of an "evolving faith" 
on the part of Abraham do appear; this may be cited in support of 
the understanding just referred to. On the other hand, however, many 
regard this as an "unconscious prophecy" by Abraham, a statement 
which in actuality was intended either to evade the question or to 
deceive the son. 6 Again, it is true that deception was a part of 
Abraham's way of dealing with crisis situations (cf. Gen 12:10-20 and 
Gen 20:1-18). However, that this was a situation in which the truth 
could not be long withheld from Isaac must be kept in mind. This 
fact raises a question as to whether or not deception was even a viable 
option for the patriarch. Perhaps it is true that Abraham was trying 
to side-step the question and in so doing gave an answer which gave 
Isaac no cause for alarm yet in the end became reality. 

The second use of the formulaic expression, "So the two of them 
walked on together," gives the reader an opportunity to prepare for 
the climax. 

Father and son arrive at the appointed place. The slow, deliber- 
ate, calculated, blow-by-blow description of events at this point is 
most impressive. "The details are noted with frightful accuracy," says 
von Rad. 7 However, not only is the reader impressed by the manner 
of description, he is also impressed by what is not said or what is only 
implied. The writer alludes to the passivity of Abraham in binding 
Isaac; that is accomplished by the lack of any particular emphasis 
being placed on that part of the description. Yet nothing is said about 
Isaac's conduct. The implied non-resistance of the son along with the 
willingness of the father suggest the idea that there was a commitment 
to the belief that God had the absolute right to make this demand 
upon both. 

The narrative of v 10 is a continuation of the previous verse; this 
is seen in the fact that the long string of waw consecutives continues. 
Another triad is employed at the peak of the description of the crisis. 
Individual details at this point characterize the description: "... he 
stretched out his hand and took the knife. . . ." At the very peak of 
the story a noticeable change in the descriptive method takes place, a 
change which seems to serve as a mediating factor between some of 
the binary elements which are found on either side of the crisis point. 

6 Von Rad, Genesis, 241; Coats, "Abraham's Sacrifice," 394. 
7 Von Rad, Genesis, 241. 


A "string" of imperfects, apparently based upon the perfect of v 1 
(HD3) characterizes the account up to this point. While the change at 
this point to the infinitive, Will??, is necessitated by the fact that he 
did not, in fact, slay his son, it also seems to denote inner disposi- 
tion. 8 He fully intended to carry through with the action initially 
required. For all intents and purposes, Isaac had been slain. 

Act II: Resolution, 22:11-18 

The intervention by the angel of YHWH, which is seen in Scene 1 
(vv 11-14), is a welcome turn of events. In spite of the opening 
statement of the story, the reader tends to wonder by the time he 
reaches v 10, whether God was actually going to let Abraham carry 
out his intention. Though great relief is experienced by the reader and 
presumably Abraham, the patriarch, nevertheless, continues to act in 
the same "restrained" manner as before. Crenshaw remarks: "Most 
astonishingly, we do not hear a word of rejoicing when the ordeal is 
ended by an urgent command. . . ." 9 For the first time he notices the 
ram, he retrieves it, and offers it in place of his son. There is no hint 
that this sacrifice was rendered in response to divine directive. 

A good example of paronomasia is evident at this point in the 
narrative. In response to Isaac's question, Abraham had responded, 
" D elohTm yir^eh." According to v 14, Abraham called the name of the 
place "yhwh yir^eh." To add to this, the comment of the angel is 
noteworthy: "... I know that you fear God ..." (yere D D elohTm) 
(v 12). This latter comment by the angel signals an important link to 
the statement of purpose for the testing. 

Scene 2, vv 15-18, records the divine response to the now proven 
patriarch. That the blessing pronounced in vv 17-18 is directly related 
to Abraham's willingness to offer Isaac is clearly established by the 
redundant expression of v 16: ". . . because you have done this thing, 
and have not withheld your son. . . ." The announcement of the 
blessing is presented in the now characteristic style of the writer, 
another triad. The blessing formula which appears in the narrative is 
not entirely new to the Abraham cycle (cf. Genesis 12, 15, 17). 
However, the form in which it is seen here is somewhat intensified 
over previous similar formulas. As an example, the "I will bless 
you" (^pISXj) of Gen 12:2 now becomes "I will greatly bless you" 

8 "A noteworthy shift from finite verb to infinitive takes place in the description of 
Abraham's intention. Thus one cannot miss the purpose of these actions described with 
such minute detail and in technical language of the sacrificial cult" (J. L. Crenshaw, 
"Journey into Oblivion: A Structural Analysis of Genesis 22:1-19," Sounding 58 [1975] 
248; hereafter cited as Crenshaw, "Journey"). 

'Crenshaw, "Journey," 252. 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 25 

(^?"nX T]3), Gen 22:17. As Speiser suggests, the promise that 
Abraham's descendants would "... possess the gate of their enemies 
. . ." (v 17) ". . . refers to capture of the opponent's administrative 
and military centers." 10 A similar blessing was invoked upon Rebekah 
by her brothers prior to her departure for Canaan to become the wife 
of Isaac (cf. Gen 24:60). 

Epilogue, 22:19 

The notice that "Abraham returned to his young men" and that 
together they returned to Beer-sheba is of special interest because of 
what it does not say. Rather obvious is the complete lack of any 
reference to Isaac in this epilogue. There is no clear indication that he 
returned with his father; neither is there any clear indication that he 
remained at Moriah. The text is silent. For this reason Crenshaw 
refers to this as the "Journey into Oblivion." 11 This fact seems to 
point the reader's attention toward Abraham rather than Isaac, and 
justifiably so, for this is not a story of the sacrifice of Isaac, it is the 
story of the testing and obedience of Abraham. 


It is doubtful that anyone would deny the moving nature of this 
account, but what contribution does it make to the Abraham cycle in 
particular and to Hebrew thought in general? How does it make that 
contribution? It is not only important to discover the meaning, but 
also to discover how it has meaning. The narrative of Genesis 22 
conveys meaning as it is read both diachronically and synchronically: 
diachronically, it seems to take on meaning as it is seen as the climax 
to the Abraham cycle; synchronically, it generates meaning as it is 
viewed as a paradigm on certain sociological issues. 

The relationship of this incident to the entire Abraham cycle 

One's appreciation of this moving account is increased when 
it is viewed diachronically in the light of the entire Abraham cycle: 
Gen 1 1:27-25:1 1. It appears as the climax to the saga of Abraham. All 
that precedes this event leads up to it; what follows almost seems 
anticlimactic. The introduction to the Abraham cycle (Gen 11:27-30) 
emphasizes the point that Sarai, Abram's wife, is barren. After long 
years of barrenness, anxiety and struggling, a son is born to Abraham 
and Sarah (Gen 21:1-7). Almost as though with a vengeance, the saga 
leaps over several years and hastens to the story which portrays the 

10 E. A. Speiser, Genesis (AB; New York: Doubleday, Inc., 1964) 164. 
1 Crenshaw, "Journey," 245. 


fruit of the once barren womb as being in grave danger. 12 However, it 
is not just a son who is in danger; it is an entire future, a potential 
nation. All that Abraham had lived for is suddenly at stake. If his 
God's word is to be believed, all the nations of the earth would 
somehow be affected by this demanding order. Either way Abraham 
might respond, it appeared as though the covenant was in danger. If 
he were to disobey, the covenant may be in jeopardy; on the other 
hand, if he were to obey God and slay Isaac, the covenant likewise 
stood in jeopardy. Abraham, indeed, was on the horns of a dilemma; 
and the demands that were placed upon him placed him in a situation 
in which it appeared that he could not win. 

When viewed as a whole the Abraham cycle is a study in 
progression, development, maturing. Perhaps as a regular reminder 
that the patriarch is very human, there appear stories, strategically 
located, which clearly portray his vulnerability. While these accounts 
are in no way to be minimized, the overall trend of the saga is 
upward; each segment seems to build upon and add to the previous 
ones. A call and promise are issued, to which there is response (Gen 
12:1-9); Abram demonstrates graciousness to Lot (Gen 13:1-13), after 
which Jehovah appears to him and reiterates the promise (Gen 13:14- 
18). In turn, Abram spares Lot (Gen 14:1-16); later, the promise is 
formalized as a binding covenant (Gen 15:1-21). The covenant is 
expanded (Gen 17:1-21) and sealed by circumcision (Gen 17:22-26). 
The seed aspect of the covenant is particularized (Gen 18:1-15); 
Abraham intercedes for Lot (Gen 18:16-33). At last the promised son 
is born (Gen 21:1-7). 

The sequence of these events suggests that both Abraham and 
the reader are being prepared for something. The cycle is going 
somewhere; it is not static. At almost any point along the way, the 
reader can stop, look behind him, and see that the plot has advanced; 
Abraham has progressed. Difficult circumstances have consistently 
presented themselves, and at times the patriarch has reacted in a very 
immature and deceitful manner. Yet overall, the relationship of these 
individual stories one to another makes the point that Abraham was 
"growing up." 

Then comes the ordeal. One is inclined to believe that had such a 
sore test come earlier in his experience, Abraham would not have 
been able to cope with it. Hence, the climax of the cycle comes and 
with it the most formidable test of the patriarch's life: God orders 

12 The amount of time between the birth of Isaac and the Genesis 22 incident is 
unknown; estimates seem to range from 7-25 years. The term employed here, "1573 is no 
real help in that it is used in reference to an unborn son (Judg 13:5, 7, 8, 12) as well as the 
sons of Samuel who were ministering in the Tabernacle (1 Sam 2:17). Gen 21:34 says, 
"And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines for many days." 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 27 

him to slay his long-awaited son. The nature of the test and the 
manner in which Abraham faced it are issues which are taken up in 
the following portions of the study. Suffice it to say here that there 
seems to be some evidence that this event marked a change in the 
patriarch's life. 

What the term HD3 contributes to the narrative 

That the narrator is so careful to introduce his account as a 
"test" is both obvious and important. It is obvious because it is the 
first statement employed by the writer in this narrative sequence. The 
importance of this point is seen in several different ways. First, it is 
important for the reader's benefit. So it was viewed by the writer, for 
he informs the reader from the very outset that this is "only a test." 
Abraham, of course, was not privy to that information. The reason 
for that appears obvious. It would not have been a genuine test if he 
had been informed that it was "only a test." Nothing would have 
been proven through it, had he known. 

Second, it is important because it contributes to one's under- 
standing of the God-man relationship; specifically, it gives insight 
into an apparently new dynamic in the Elohim/Yahweh-Abraham 
cycle. This is the first, and the only, time in the Abraham saga where 
the nature of a particular event is so labeled. Nevertheless, its use here 
suggests that from Yahweh's perspective, Abraham needed to be 
tested. 13 There is no clear indication why He deemed such a test 
necessary; only that He did. No unusually troublesome flaws in 
Abraham's character have been brought to the surface up to this 
point. On the contrary, Yahweh appears to have looked with favor 
upon the patriarch. 14 

With no clear explanation of this question coming from the text 
itself, one is left to offer several possibilities for consideration. 15 One 
possibility is that the test is a clear indication of the somewhat 
tyrannical nature of Abraham's God. Yahweh, a young, ambitious 
deity, was perhaps attempting to demonstrate his rather cynical 

13 Crenshaw makes the following thought-provoking remarks: "In a sense the story 
bears the character of a qualifying test. The fulfillment of the promise articulated in 
Genesis 12 and reaffirmed at crucial stages during Abraham's journey through alien 
territory actualizes the divine intention to bless all nations by means of one man. 
Abraham's excessive love for the son of promise comes dangerously close to idolatry and 
frustrates the larger mission. Thus is set the stage for the qualifying test." Crenshaw, 
"Journey," 249. 

4 That this is true is evidenced by the initial promises of Gen 12:1-3, the formalizing 
of the promises into a covenant in Genesis 15, the statement that "Abraham believed 
God and it was counted to him for righteousness" (Gen 15:6), the fulfillment of the 
promise of a son, the manifold blessings of Yahweh on Abraham, et al. 


attitude toward one of his subjects/devotees. In this writer's opinion, 
to establish such a suggestion as legitimate would require much more 
evidence than this one passage can be construed to present. Another 
suggestion is that the key to understanding the reason behind the test 
is to be found in a study of the term HD3, which the writer employs. 
This suggestion brings our attention back to the original point 
regarding the importance of the identification of this as a "testing" 
experience by the writer. 

A third reason why the writer's opening statement is important, 
therefore, is that it may hold the key to understanding the reason why 
God tested Abraham as he did. The term J1D3 is employed, in 
addition to the usage in Genesis 22, eight other times in a context 
where Elohim/Yahweh is said to be the "tester." In six (Exod 15:22- 
26; 16:4; 20:18-20; Deut 8:2, 16; Judg 2:21-22; 3:1-4) of these cases, 
Israel was the object of His testing; in 2 Chron 32:31 Hezekiah, king 
of Judah, was the one tested; in Ps 26:2 David appealed to Yahweh to 
test him. In five of the six cases where Yahweh/Elohim speaks of 
"testing" Israel, the context of each clearly shows a relationship 
between the motif of "testing" and his concern over the nation's 
obedience to his commandments/statutes/law/ ways. 16 In Exod 20:18- 
20 the obedience concept is implied though not specifically stated, 
and interestingly enough, the subject of the nation's fear of God is a 
central issue, as it is in Gen 22:1, 12. Again in the Ps 26:2 occurrence 
of the term, the obedience concept is implied when David says: 
"Prove me, O Lord, and try (H03) me; test my heart and my mind." 
Of Hezekiah, the Chronicler observes: 

And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had 
been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the 
land, God left him to himself, in order to try him and to know all that 
was in his heart (2 Chron 32:31). 

If the pattern seen in the use of the term HD3, when Yahweh/ 
Elohim is said to be the "tester," can serve as a legitimate key for 
understanding its use in Gen 22:1, then one may conclude that the 
reason Yahweh deemed it necessary to test Abraham was to know 
what was in his heart, to test his obedience to and fear of Yahweh 
when his promised and beloved son was at stake. 

In addition to the two suggestions which appear in the following discussion, see 
Plain's discussion in W. G. Plaut, The Torah: A Modern Commentary. Vol. I: Genesis 
(New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1974) 210-11. 
16 Exod 15:22-26; 16:4; Deut 8:2, 16; Judg 2:21, 22; 3:1-4. 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 29 

Exploring relationships 

One of the functions of this particular story seems to be that of 
exploring relationships: relationships between man and his God as 
well as relationships between a father and his sons. Both of these 
areas of investigation are in themselves fairly complex. An attempt 
will be made here to probe both realms in an effort to understand the 
dynamics involved in these two areas of relationships. The latter one 
seems to be the result of or the outgrowth of the former; therefore, 
they will be analyzed in the same order as they have initially been 

The God/man relationship is explored at different levels in this 
narrative. The images of both God and man are studied to some 
degree; the demands of God are seen in contrast to the response of 
man. Fundamental to the account is an obvious question: "What 
kind of a God would subject a man to such an ordeal?" This, of 
course, immediately raises the whole issue of the image of God as 
seen in Genesis 22. Responses to the question vary. In large measure 
one's response depends upon which aspect of the narrative is empha- 
sized. If the emphasis is upon the initial command to sacrifice Isaac 
and the concept of the divine deception involved, the view of the 
image of God obviously will be somewhat negative. On the other 
hand, if the emphasis is placed upon the fact that Yahweh stayed the 
hand of Abraham and subsequently increased his blessing upon the 
patriarch, one's conclusions concerning the image of God would 
agree with de Vaux, who commented: "Any Israelite who heard this 
story would take it to mean that his race owed its existence to the 
mercy of God, and its prosperity to the obedience of their great 
ancestor." 17 

More, however, is to be gained by viewing the image of God as 
portrayed in Gen 22:1-10 in a broader context. When seen in the 
perspective of both that which precedes and follows these verses, a 
noticeable "role reversal" occurs in this problematic section. In 
Genesis 12-21 Yahweh is depicted as the deity who desires to bless 
greatly the patriarch; the promises abound in these chapters. Not only 
is he seen as one who promises blessing; he is unmistakably set forth 
as the one who fulfills the promised blessings. Genesis 21 records the 
birth of the son of promise, Isaac. Suddenly, a reversal of roles 
occurs. The God of promise and blessing appears to become the 
antagonist, the tyrant, the adversary, the God of contradiction. In the 
minds of some, the problem is not so much in the initial demand 

17 R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel; Vol. II: Religious Institutions (New York: McGraw- 
Hill, 1965) 443. 


which Yahweh/Elohim made on Abraham as with the fact that he 
allowed Abraham to think right up to the very last moment that he 
was actually serious when in fact he was only testing Abraham. 

Just as the careful student of the saga of Abraham must see the 
role reversal just described, he is also obliged to see another drastic 
reversal in Gen 22:11-18 — a reversal in the portrayal of the image of 
God back to that which prevails in Genesis 12-21. This second 
reversal sheds a different light on the first reversal. Certainly there 
should be no attempt to minimize the image of Yahweh in Gen 22:1- 
10. There is no question that a "different side" of Yahweh is to be 
seen there. At the same time, however, one must reckon with the 
double role-reversal which is evident in the story. But, as demon- 
strated elsewhere in this study, Yahweh/Elohim is to be understood 
as a God who sorely tests his subjects. According to Exodus 15, Israel 
needed water; in Exodus 16 and Deuteronomy 8, the nation needed 
bread; Judges 2 and 3 suggest that the nation needed military 
assistance. While the exact circumstances differ in the Genesis 22 
incident, the basic point is the same. Yahweh/Elohim is set forth by 
the biblical writers as a God who takes his servants through perilous 
situations for the purpose of testing them. In almost every one of 
these examples, including Genesis 22, there is evidence of divine 
provision as a means of survival through the experience. This is not at 
all unusual in the realm of religion. The religions of the ancient Near 
East were characterized by deities who demanded devotion; in some 
cases demonstration of one's devotion was evidenced through child 
sacrifice. The unique feature in Abraham's experience was that his 
God stopped him from completing the act. Thus the double role- 
reversal shows itself to be significant in the story. 

A second fundamental question must be asked concerning the 
story: "What kind of a man would respond to such a command in 
the manner in which Abraham did?" Almost as important as the 
image-of-God motif is the image of man in relationship to his God as 
it is explored in this fascinating account. Once again, there is differ- 
ence of opinion on this question. In fact, the same individual some- 
times experiences mixed emotions in this regard, as Kierkegaard 

Why then did Abraham do it? For God's sake and (in complete 
identity with this) for his own sake. He did it for God's sake because 
God required this proof of his faith; for his own sake he did it in order 
that he might furnish the proof. The unity of these two points of view 
is perfectly expressed by the word which has always been used to 
characterize this situation: It is a trial, a temptation. A temptation — 
but what does that mean? What ordinarily tempts a man is that which 
would keep him from doing his duty, but in this case the temptation is 
itself the ethical . . . which would keep him from doing God's will. 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 31 

Therefore, though Abraham arouses my admiration, he at the same 
time appalls me. ... He who has explained this riddle has explained 
my life. 18 

An interesting and perhaps significant ingredient is to be gleaned 
by tracing the role-reversal pattern in the case of Abraham. With one 
major exception, it is opposite that of Yahweh/Elohim's. It is not at 
all unusual to find Abraham arguing with Elohim throughout Gene- 
sis 12-21. Whereas in that segment of the cycle God is the "blesser," 
Abraham is somewhat the "antagonist." However in Genesis 22, 
where he is called upon to do something of a far more severe nature 
than anything else up to this point, a clear reversal is seen. He does 
not argue with God, in spite of the fact that to obey would mean the 
death of his long-awaited and dearly loved and favored son. There is 
no hint even of any hesitancy on Abraham's part, though to actually 
follow through would place the covenant in jeopardy in addition to 
suffering the loss of his son. How is this phenomenon to be explained? 
Does his response represent a "blind obedience," which in present 
times seems to have been operative to some degree in Jonestown, 
Guyana? Or does his response indicate that he had reached a level of 
maturity and obedience which enabled him to carry out God's 
instructions and at the same time leave the consequences to God? In 
answer to this perplexing problem, it may be significant to note that 
there is no evidence in Genesis 22, or in the remainder of the 
Abraham cycle, of a reversal back to the image which characterized 
Abraham prior to the Genesis 22 incident. It is true that there is no 
strong or positive evidence in the rest of the Abraham saga that he 
was a "different Abraham" from this point on. However, the failure 
of the text of the cycle to allude to a second role reversal may be 
significant in this respect. 

Further evidence that the tale seems to be exploring relationships 
between God and man is the heavy emphasis which is placed upon 
testing/obedience and fear of God/love of son. It seems quite appar- 
ent that there is a direct relationship between the discussion concern- 
ing the image of God/image of man and testing/obedience as well as 
fear of God/love of son. Both of these latter issues seem to be 
engaged at a level different from the former matter. Allusion has 
already been made to the fact that the writers of the OT portray 
Yahweh as a God who tested his subjects. That is not so unusual 
or surprising. Abraham's unflinching obedience is somewhat more 
puzzling. He appears as a man who believed that the God whom he 

S. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Princeton: Princeton University, 1945) 


worshipped had the right to make such a demand of him and that the 
sacrifice of Isaac was the right thing for him. 

It seems significant that both comparisons and contrasts can be 
drawn between this experience and Abraham's initial encounter with 
Yahweh, as told in Gen 12: Iff. Both experiences began with a divine 
emphatic imperative, "go." 19 Both situations involved going to an 
"undesignated place": ". . . to the land that I will show you" (Gen 
12:1); ". . . upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you" (Gen 
22:2). In both cases a "sacrifice of family" was required: in the former 
experience, it was to leave family behind; in the latter, it was an 
actual sacrifice of his son. This final confrontation by Yahweh was, in 
a sense, not a completely new experience for the patriarch, although 
obviously the most trying. Abraham's entire experience with Yahweh, 
beginning with the initial call and promise, may be viewed as pre- 
paring him for this final, supreme test. While the general direction of 
Abraham's response in both cases was toward obedience, in the first 
situation there was only partial obedience, while in the last situation 
there was total obedience. This fact "puts a little distance" between 
the two experiences. The major contrast, of course, between the two 
is the fact that the first imperative was accompanied by a promise of 
blessing; there was no such promise which came with the imperative 
of Gen 22:2. In fact, this latter imperative seemed to place all the 
foregoing promises in jeopardy. This set of facts greatly increases the 
distance between the two situations. But that distance is then reduced 
by the fact that both responses are followed by blessing from Yahweh. 
Sarna, commenting on a comparative study of these two passages, 
draws some conclusions which deserve consideration because they 
relate the study to the matter of exploring the relationship between 
Yahweh and the patriarch: 

The great difference between the two events is what constitutes the 
measure of Abraham's progress in his relationship to God. The first 
divine communication carried with it the promise of reward. The final 
one held no such expectation. On the contrary, by its very nature it 
could mean nothing less than the complete nullification of the covenant 

19 The form is l? - ^/- Cassuto remarks that this form ". . . is not without specific 
signification." He further observes: "In both cases Abram undergoes an ordeal: here he 
has to leave behind his aged father and his environment and go to a country that is 
unknown to him; there he has to take leave of his family circle for a little while, and of his 
cherished son forever; his son, it is true, will accompany him for the first part of the way, 
but only so that he might bid him farewell forever. Thereafter he must go on his way 
alone, the way of absolute discipline and devotion. In both instances the test is made 
harder by the fact that the destination of the journey is not stated beforehand." 
Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Part II: From Noah to Abraham; trans. 
I. Abrahams (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1964) 309-10. 

LAWLOR: GENESIS 22:1-19 33 

and the frustration forever of all hope of posterity. Ishmael had already 
departed. Now Isaac would be gone, too. Tradition has rightly seen in 
Abraham the exemplar of steadfast, disinterested loyalty to God. 20 

A third level of interest in regard to the Yahweh/man relation- 
ship is the set of binary elements: fear of God/love of son. There 
appears to be something of a relationship between this and the 
testing/obedience motif, yet the fear of God/love of son struggle goes 
beyond or becomes more particularized than the former. Gen 22:2 
sets up the frustration by the way in which Yahweh referred to Isaac, 
"... your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love." At the point 
where the angel stops Abraham, the clear pronouncement is made, 
"... now I know that you fear God ..." (Gen 22:12). The impli- 
cation seems to be that the fear of God on Abraham's part was 
in question because of his love for his son. Two factors in the text 
unite to mediate between these two elements. The description of the 
raised knife in the hand of the patriarch together with the writer's 
employment of the infinitive WIV? 1 ? clearly indicates Abraham's 
intention of slaying his son. An inner disposition reduces the distance 
between Abraham's fear of God and love of Isaac. 

A second major realm of relationships is explored through this 
narrative: a horizontal realm. The relationship of a father to his sons 
is a theme that is investigated. At this point it is instructive to 
place two incidents side-by-side. The expulsion of Ishmael, as recorded 
in Genesis 21, and the binding of Isaac, described in Genesis 22, 
lead to an interesting study in comparisons and contrasts when 
analyzed together. Generally speaking, these two segments of the 
Abraham cycle illustrate the pattern, seen often in the OT, of 
the younger son becoming the favored son over the firstborn. 21 
As a matter of fact, this case sets the pace for those which follow 
in the patriarchal sequence. Ishmael, the result of Abraham's attempt 
to "help God fulfill His promise," was rejected by Yahweh and 
eventually expelled by Abraham. Isaac, the younger of the two 
sons, is described as having been sovereignly chosen by Yahweh and 
favored by Abraham. This, in itself, is not foreign to the biblical 
record; but the paradox is seen in the fact that Abraham became 
quite distressed over Sarah's instructions to cast Hagar and Ishmael 
out, yet when God instructed him to slay Isaac, the favored son, there 
was no evidence of any reluctance whatsoever on the father's part. 

N. M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis: The Heritage of Biblical Israel (New York: 
Schocken, 1974) 163. 

21 See Genesis 27 (Jacob) and Genesis 37 (Joseph). 



A number of interesting comparisons and contrasts can be 
observed between the two events. The following chart summarizes the 
main details: 

Ishmael in danger 
Genesis 21 

Isaac in danger 
Genesis 22 


Crisis created as a result of a 
human directive: Sarah tells 
Abraham to cast out Hagar 
and Ishmael (v 10) 

Abraham shows real reluctance 
to follow through (v 11) 

Crisis created as a result of a 
divine directive: God tells 
Abraham to offer Isaac as 
a burnt offering (v 2) 

Abraham shows no real reluc- 
tance to follow through (vv 3ff.) 

God refers to Ishmael as 
"Abraham's seed," 5HT (v 13) 

God refers to Isaac as 
"Abraham's son," ]3 (v 2) 

Sarah aware of the circum- 
stances; she was the 
"perpetrator" (vv 9-10) 

Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, 
could not stand to watch 
her son die (vv 15-16) 

Action takes place in the 
wilderness of Beer-sheba (v 14) 

Sarah apparently not aware 
of the circumstances 

Abraham, the father of Isaac, 
did not shrink from observing 
(in fact, participating in) 
the death of his son 

Action takes place in the 
land of Moriah (vv 2-4) 


Firstborn cast out, becomes 
a nation 

God promised to make a 
nation of Ishmael because he 
was Abraham's seed (v 13) 

Abraham "rose up early in 
the morning" to follow 
through (v 14) 

Divine intervention occurs; 
angel of God calls out to 
Hagar; reversal of danger 
(v 17) 

Firstborn cast out, becomes 
a great nation 

God promised to make a great 
nation of Isaac because 
Abraham had not withheld him 
(vv 16-18) 

Abraham "rose up early in 
the morning" to follow 
through (v 3) 

Divine intervention occurs; 
angel of Yahweh calls out 
to Abraham; reversal of danger 
(vv 11 ff.) 



Water (life-preserving) 

was providentially provided 

(v 19) 

Hagar saw the heretofore 
unseen well (v 19) 

Hagar appropriates the water 
without a specific divine 
directive (v 19) 

Hagar, an Egyptian, 
takes a wife from 
Egypt for Ishmael 
(v 21) 

Ram (life-preserving) 

was providentially provided 

(v 13) 

Abraham saw the heretofore 
unseen ram (v 13) 

Abraham appropriates the ram 
without a specific divine 
directive (v 13) 

Abraham, a Mesopotamian, 
takes a wife from 
Mesopotamia for Isaac 
(Genesis 24) 


It seems apparent that one of the themes that the story presents as 
it is read diachronically is the testing and obedience of Abraham. That 
concept keeps reappearing in several different ways. That is not meant 
to imply that this diachronic motif exhausts the contribution of this 
celebrated story. One is inclined to ask the question: Is it really 
possible, on the basis of the details of the story as they are given, to 
know what was going on in the heart and mind of the patriarch? What 
do his unusual reactions mean? 

In the synchronic direction, the account contributes to the 
exploration of certain religious and sociological relationships: God/ 
man and father/son. But is there more? After some fairly extensive 
study, looking at the passage in many different ways and from several 
perspectives, it is obvious that the passage warrants further attention. 


John A. Sproule 

In this article the author seeks to demonstrate exegetically and 
botanically that our Lord Jesus Christ was not merely using the 
language of accommodation or even proverbial language, necessarily, 
when he referred to the mustard seed as the "least" of all seeds. The 
author appeals to the language of the text, the context, and to expert 
testimony in the field of botany to show that the mustard seed was 
indeed the smallest garden-variety seed known to man in Bible times. 


Matt 13:32 (and its parallel in Mark 4:30-32) seems to be a 
favorite target for opponents of the inerrancy of the autographs of 
Scripture. In the context of this passage, Jesus, in a parable, describes 
the phenomenal growth of the Kingdom of Heaven. He compares 
that growth with the growth of a grain of mustard (oivdrcecix;) which 
is sown in a field and grows to be larger than any of the garden herbs 
(^axdvwv). Jesus refers to the mustard seed as the least ((iiKpoiepov) 
of all seeds (arcepudTcov). 

Daniel Fuller of Fuller Theological Seminary, arguing for cul- 
tural accommodation, states that Jesus referred to the mustard seed 
as the smallest of seeds when, in fact, the mustard seed is not the 
smallest seed known botanically to man. 1 He argues that Jesus was 
accommodating his language to the knowledge of the people. In 
short, what Christ said was inaccurate, but it met the need. Harold 
Lindsell refers to one of Fuller's public lectures and writes: 

Dr. Fuller alleges that botanically we know that there are smaller seeds 
than the mustard seed. And that is true. Then he argues that Jesus 
accommodates Himself to the ignorance of the people to whom He was 

'D. P. Fuller, Evangelism and Biblical Inerrancy (unpublished monograph, Dallas 
Theological Seminary, n.d.) 18. This work first came to this writer's attention in 1968. 


speaking, since they believed this. But it constitutes an error, and the 
presence of one error invalidates the claim to biblical inerrancy. 2 

Lindsell, in offering suggested solutions to the apparent problem, 
appeals to a suggestion made nearly a century ago by John A. 
Broadus. Lindsell writes: 

The American Commentary says of this passage that it was popular 
language, and it was the intention of the speaker to communicate the 
fact that the mustard seed was "the smallest that his hearers were 
accustomed to sow." And indeed this may well be the case. In that 
event there was no error. If the critics of Scripture wish to use the 
intention of the writer, this is one place it can be used in favor of 
inerrancy. 3 

An alternative appeal is made by Lindsell to Matthew Henry's 
suggested reading of the passage — the mustard seed "which is one of 
the least of all seeds." Lindsell does not believe that the Greek is 
sufficiently clear at this point to affirm that Jesus actually was saying 
that the mustard seed is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. He 

He [Jesus] was saying it is less than all the seeds. What must be deter- 
mined is what the words "all the seeds" mean here. If Jesus was talking 
about the seeds commonly known to the people of that day, the effect 
of His words was different from what they would have been if He was 
speaking of all the seeds on the earth. When the possibility exists for a 
translation that fulfills the intention of the speaker and does not 
constitute error, that passage is to be preferred above one that does the 
opposite. And when two possibilities exist, why should not the benefit 
of any doubt be given in favor of the one that fulfills what the 
Scripture teaches about inerrancy? To choose the other route leaves 
behind the implication that one is seeking out error and trying to 
establish it on flimsy grounds. 5 

Lindsell is certainly right in his position that the Bible, with such 
few apparent errors still unresolved, should be given the benefit of 
any doubts. However, his two suggested solutions to the problem do 
not go into sufficient detail as they stand, although they are certainly 
moving in the right direction. All that seems to be needed is a more 
detailed extension of both of his suggestions. 

2 H. Lindsell, The Battle For The Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 169. 
Lindsell cites an unpublished paper delivered by D. P. Fuller at Wheaton College, 
Wheaton, Illinois. Quite likely this is the same work by Fuller referred to above. 

3 Ibid. Lindsell cites J. A. Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 
(Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1886) 296. 

4 Ibid. 

5 Ibid. 


Several years ago (1968-69), this writer investigated the "prob- 
lem" of the mustard seed. 6 It is the purpose of this article to suggest a 
solution which is more satisfactory than most of the suggested 
solutions and which squares with the Greek text, the context, com- 
mon sense, and the Bible's teaching concerning its own inerrancy. 


In the NT there is a blurring of distinction between the compara- 
tive and superlative forms of the adjective. The comparative form 
jiiKpoxepov appears to serve for both the comparative and superlative 
forms of the adjective uiKpoc;, and only its usage in the immediate 
context, as Jesus understood and used it, and its use in the parallel 
passage, Mark 4:30-32, can determine how it is to be translated. 
Alford argues that the word should not be taken as a superlative and 
that the phrase should not be pressed too literally since the mustard 
seed was proverbial of anything small. 8 Mare, in a scholarly treat- 
ment of this text and of the modern translations of the comparative 
forms in it, also argues for the comparative use here. 9 He appeals 
to the anarthrous construction of uiKpoiepov in arguing his case, 
but such an appeal is inconclusive. Significant here is Robertson's 

The comparative form, therefore, has two ideas, that of contrast or 
duality (Gegensatz) and of the relative comparative (Steigerung), 
though the first use was the original. Relative comparison is, of course, 
the dominant idea in most of the NT examples [italics mine], though as 
already remarked, the notion of duality always lies in the background. 10 

Thus, since relative comparison is dominant with the comparative 
and in consideration of the immediate context (where it could be taken 
as comparative but combined with the idea of totality, i.e., "less than 
all seeds," making it essentially superlative, it seems best to regard 
uucpoxepov as superlative. Mark's addition of xtov tni rfjc, yfjc; in the 
parallel passage (Mark 4:31) would further support this. Let it be 

J. A. Sproule, An Exegesis of New Testament Passages Cited As Errant By 
Evangelicals (unpublished Master of Theology Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 
1969) 7-11. 

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 668. 

H. Alford, The Greek Testament, rev. by E. F. Harrison (4 vols.; Chicago: 
Moody, 1958), 1. 144. 

9 W. H. Mare, "The Smallest Mustard Seed — Matthew 13:32," Grace Journal 9 
(1968) 3-11. 

Robertson, Grammar, 663. 


granted then that Jesus did declare the mustard seed to be the least of 
all seeds. Is error involved? 

The problem of error finds its solution in the kind of seed to 
which Jesus was referring. The mustard seed referred to was most 
likely the Sinapis (oivdni) nigra, or "black mustard," cultivated to 
produce a useful product, namely, mustard and colza oil. Botani- 
cally, the smallest of all seeds is the orchid seed. However, the 
smallest garden-variety seed (X&xavov) in Palestine, or the entire 
eastern world, at the time of Christ was the mustard seed. This is true 
today. Shinners writes: 

The smallest of all seeds are those of orchids. The account under 
"ORCHIDS" in L. H. Bailey's Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture 
has this statement: The seeds of orchids are minute and extremely 
numerous, the number in a single capsule have been estimated for 
different species from several thousand to over a million. There are 13 
genera with a total of 61 species of this family described in the Flora of 
Syria, Palestine and Sinai, Vol. 2, by George E. Post (2nd ed. by John 
Edward Dinsmore, 1932). These are not the huge florist's kinds that the 
ordinary person thinks of first . . . , but they are large enough to be 
noticeable as wild flowers . . . the mustard seed would indeed have 
been the smallest of those likely to have been noticed by the people at 
the time of Christ. The principal field crops (such as barley, wheat, 
lentils, beans) have much larger seeds, as do vetches and other plants 
which might have been present as weeds (the biblical tares) among 
grain. . . . There are various weeds and wild flowers belonging to the 
mustard, amaranth, pigweed, and chickweed families with seeds as 
small or smaller than mustard itself, but they would not have been 
particularly known or noticed by the inhabitants. Mustard occurs both 
wild and planted. The seeds of basil {Ocium basilicum, in the mint 
family) are nearly as small as those of mustard, and the plant was used 
in ancient times, though not so much as in later periods (medieval and 
modern). The only modern crop plant of importance with smaller seeds 
than mustard is tobacco, but this plant is of American origin and was 
not grown in the Old World until the 16th century and later. ... In 
absolute terms, the number of species in Christ's time was almost the 
same as at present, the chief differences being the disappearance of 
some (mostly in quite modern times), and the development of hybrids 
or garden varieties (which aren't true species). 

"H. N. and A. L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (Waltham: Chronica Botanica, 
1952) 59. 

L. H. Shinners, private interview held at the Herbarium at Southern Methodist 
University, Dallas, Texas, June, 1968. Dr. Shinners received the Ph.D. degree in 
Botany from the University of Wisconsin in 1943. He has served as Research Associate 
at the Milwaukee Public Museum and is a founding member of the Southwestern 
Association of Naturalists. He is the founder, editor, and publisher of the journal. 


Shinners, an expert in the field of botany, has been quoted at 
length to show that the mustard seed in Bible times was the smallest 
garden-variety seed and, with the exception of tobacco, remains so 
today. That Jesus was referring to garden-variety mustard seed is 
evident from the context. His analogy is between the growth of the 
Kingdom and the growth of an intentionally planted seed, i.e., 
garden-variety (". . . which a man took and sowed in his field"). In 
every NT instance where oTripua is used botanically, it is used in an 
agricultural sense of being sowed (cf. Matt 13:24, 27, 37; Mark 4:31; 
2 Cor 9: 10). Also, on every such occasion, it is used in connection with 
the verb OTteipco which means "to sow." The derivation of anepua 
from OTteipco further augments the argument that Jesus' use of orteputx 
in Matt 13:32 referred to that which was planted by man. This 
conclusion is fully supported by both classical usage and the papyri 
evidence. 13 

This argument is further buttressed by the obvious association 
between aTtepudicov and >.axdvcov ("herbs") in the text. Liddell and 
Scott describe Mxavov as occurring mostly in the plural and refer- 
ring to garden herbs, potherbs, vegetables, and greens, in opposition 
to wild plants. 14 Bornkamm defines X.dxavov as "edible plants," 
"vegetables," which are grown in the field or garden. 15 


Therefore, it may be concluded that when Jesus called the 
mustard seed the least of all seeds, the reference was to garden-variety 
seeds, and Sinapis nigra was the smallest of all such seeds. This is a 
reasonable conclusion and it squares with both the Greek and the 
context of the disputed passages. 


A second defense against the claim of errancy is that Jesus was 
speaking proverbially, since the great contrast between the very small 

SIDA Contributions to Botany. Dr. Shinners has been guest lecturer at the Annual 
Symposium on Systematics at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and at the Smithsonian 
Institute. He presently serves as Director of the Herbarium at Southern Methodist 
University, the largest herbarium in the southwest, containing more than 318,000 
botanical specimens from all parts of the world. 

H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (7th ed.; New York: 
Harper & Bros., 1889) 1414; for the papyri evidence, see J. H. Moulton and G. 
Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 
1930) 583. 

14 Liddell and Scott, Lexicon, 879. 

15 G. Bornkamm, "kdxctvov," TDNT 4 (1968) 65. 

Mare, "The Smallest Mustard Seed," 7. 


mustard seed and its ultimate herb was proverbial of great growth. 17 
Proverbial language is not errant language. Scientific precision need 
not be expected of proverbial expressions, just as today, when 
newspapers announce official "sunset" and "sunrise" times without 
evoking a cry of "error!" Both arguments presented herein adequately 
show that no error is involved in Matt 13:32. 

H. L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud 
und Midrash (4 vols.; Munchen: C. H. Beck, 1961), 1. 669. 


George J. Zemek, Jr. 

THE worthy reputation of Hab 2:4b in both Jewish and Christian 
circles is well attested. For example, "the Talmud records the 
famous remark of R. Simlai (Makkot 23b), 'Moses gave Israel 613 
commandments. David reduced them to 10, Isaiah to 2, but Habak- 
kuk to one: the righteous shall live by his faith." '" 1 New Testament 
theology is also built upon that text's firm foundation. Concerning 
Paul's utilization, Johnson appropriately asserts: " 'The just shall live 
by faith,' — it is, without question, near the soul of Pauline the- 
ology." 2 Historically, the testimony of the text as a theological 
benchmark continued to grow. The preeminent illustration of this 
phenomenon was the text's catalytic effect in leading to the Reforma- 
tion: "Habakkuk's great text, with his son Paul's comments and 
additions, became the banner of the Protestant Reformation in the 
hands of Habakkuk's grandson, Martin Luther." 3 Consequently, 
Feinberg's appraisal of Hab 2:4b should not be regarded as an 
overstatement: "The key to the whole Book of Habakkuk . . . the 
central theme of all the Scriptures." 4 

In spite of this reputation, the text has occasioned many critical 
investigations. These studies range from those immediately associated 
with the text to those which are tangential; in terms of result, they 
range from those which are destructive to those which are construc- 
tive. This endeavor is intended to be a general survey of the most 
significant challenges relating to Hab 2:4b. 

Since the text is particularly strategic, every conservative student 
of the Word of God has the theological responsibility of sharpening 
his focus on the tensions manifested by these studies. Also, this 

The author would like to thank Mr. William D. Barrick for his labors in 
reference to the revision of the format of this paper for publication. 

'S. M. Lehrman, "Habakkuk," in The Twelve Prophets, Soncino Books of the 
Bible, ed. by A. Cohen (London: Soncino, 1948) 219. 

2 S. L. Johnson, Jr., "The Gospel That Paul Preached," BSac 128 (1971) 327. 

3 Ibid., 328. 

4 C. L. Feinberg, The Major Messages of the Minor Prophets: Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 
and Malachi (New York: American Board of Missions to the Jews, 1951) 23. 


responsibility cannot be avoided merely because an ultimate resolu- 
tion of all the tensions is improbable. 5 

The occasion of these tensions is related primarily to the "tex- 
tual, hermeneutical, exegetical, and theological problems raised by 
the use of Hab 2:4 in the New Testament." 6 A corollary to this 
central concern is the alleged Paul/James antithesis between faith and 
works. However, when all the scriptural data is synthesized, the 
arguments are found to be complementary, and a biblically balanced 
approach emerges. 7 

A larger, concentric corollary involves the scriptural data which 
may be systematized within the doctrine of the perseverance of the 
saints. Larger yet is the concentric corollary of divine sovereignty and 
human responsibility. In all of these cases and from the reference 
point of an exegetical, systematic theology, the issues are not illumi- 
nated by an either/or methodology but by a both/and sensitivity. The 
key word of biblical and systematic studies in theology must be 


It is expedient to examine the text of Hab 2:4b first. There are at 
least two good reasons for this tack: textual variants are minimal, and 
consequently, the line becomes a poetical reference point which 
provides important clues concerning the interpretation of the more 
difficult lines within the immediate context. 8 

Textual considerations 9 

The major textual problem concerns the third masculine singular 
suffix attached to H3TQX. Brownlee summarizes the pertinent data: 

'Concerning a tangentially but yet vitally related discussion on the significance of 
the genitive 0eoO in the phrase 8iKaioauvr| GeoC within its context (i.e., Rom 1:17a; cf. 
Hab 2:4b quotation in Rom 1:17b), Cranfield honestly concludes that "the last word in 
this debate has clearly not yet been spoken. It would therefore be irresponsible to claim 
that the question has been conclusively decided either way" [italics added]. C. E. B. 
Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; 
Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 1. 98-99. The extended discussion of this problem by 
Cranfield represents only one facet of the tension related to the present study. 

Mohnson, "The Gospel That Paul Preached," 338, n. 31. 

'Cranfield carefully describes the Protestant/Catholic tensions over SikcuoOv. His 
recognition of both distinction and concord with regard to justification and sanctifica- 
tion is noteworthy. Cranfield, Romans, 1. 95. 

8 In the light of the textual complications of vv 2:4a and 2:5a, the latter reason is 
particularly significant. Cf. D. E. Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk (Atlanta: 
John Knox, 1976) 45; C. F. Keil, Minor Prophets, in vol. 10 of Commentary on the Old 
Testament in Ten Volumes, by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
n.d.), 2. 73; E. Henderson, The Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets (London: Hamilton, 
Adams, and Co., 1845) 303. 

9 For extended discussions, see: W. H. Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of 
Habakkuk," JBL 82 (1963) 322ff; J. A. Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic 


Instead of in31&X2 in Hab. 2:4, G, Aq., and Old Latin read 1H1&IO. 
It is no loss that the word in vii. 15 [i.e. lQpHab] is no longer extant, 
for in the script of the scroll T and , could not have been distinguished. 
The interpretation Dn38N ("their faith") at viii. 2, however, fortunately 
confirms the 3rd per. suffix. T's finUttnj? interprets also the 3rd sing, 
suffix — the plural number being merely a part of the translator's free 
representation of the thought. The Palestinian recension reads 
ev 7uaT[e]i auxou with MT against G's sk 7tiaT£u)c; uou .... In the 
N.T. neither suffix is attested (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), but 
the interpretation is consonant with the 3rd pers. 10 

Semantic considerations pertaining to p ,r TX n 

1 . General considerations. With the introduction of the semantics 
of the p*7X words, the battle for balance in this study commences. To 
a greater or lesser degree, every scholar's presuppositions color his 
interpretation of the data. Generally speaking, Hill's treatment demon- 
strates commendable balance. Dodd's treatment is based upon a 
legitimate footing; however, at times, he becomes eccentric to the 
right. His footing is worthy of citation: 

It is evident that this study of the Greek renderings of j?"TX has an 
important bearing upon the uses of Sucaioauvr), SiKaioc,, SikouoDv in 
the New Testament. In particular, the Pauline use of these terms must 
be understood in the light of Septuagintal usage and the underlying 
Hebrew. The apostle wrote Greek, and read the LXX, but he was also 
familiar with the Hebrew original. Thus while his language largely 
follows that of the LXX, the Greek words are for him always coloured 
by their Hebrew association. 12 

Problems of Habakkuk II. 4-5," JTS 28 (1977) lOff. [note pp. 17-18 for further 
bibliography]; P. J. M. Southwell, "A Note on Habakkuk ii. 4," JTS 19 (1968) 614-16 
[a good synopsis of the data with the texts conveniently printed]; F. Delitzsch, 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, trans, by T. L. Kingsbury (2 vols., reprinted; 
Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978), 2. 198-99; F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 272-73 and nn. 195, 196. In n. 196, Bruce outlines the 
various ways that the LXX witnesses position the possessive uou with Siicaioc,. Ibid., 
273, n. 196. 

10 W. H. Brownlee, The Text of Habakkuk in the Ancient Commentary from Qumran 
(JBLMS 11; Philadelphia: Society of Biblical Literature, 1959) 44-45. Concerning the 
uou of the LXX, it "could mean either 'because of my [sc. God's] faithfulness' or 
'because of his faith in me.'" Cranfield, Romans, 1. 100. It is obvious that the active 
and passive options of niaziq contribute to this ambivalence. For further comment on 
the diversity of the possessive pronouns in Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, see: 
J. Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians 
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1869) 244. 

"For an excellent discussion of the root j?*TX, with generally credible syntheses, 
see: D. Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the Semantics of Soterio- 
logical Terms (SNTSMS 5; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1967) 82-162 [i.e., chap. 
4, "The Background and Meaning of AIKAIOZYNH and Cognate Words"]; note 
especially pp. 82-98. 

12 C. H. Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1935) 57. 


It will be seen that Barr's slightly left-of-center polemic will help to 
check indiscriminate extensions of the aforementioned principle, 
regardless of the specific words involved (e.g., p"7X, ]OX, etc.). 

After an etymological survey of the root pl¥ (cf. Ugaritic, 
Phoenician, and Arabic), 13 Hill concludes: 

On the basis of these illustrations of early usage it is difficult to 
assert with confidence a single primary meaning of the root pl¥. The 
most we can say is that they suggest that the fundamental idea of plX 
available to us is that of conformity to a norm which requires to be 
defined in each particular case. 14 

Turning to the Old Testament, it is first necessary to note that there is 
a "two-fold application of the p"7X-terms" 15 : "The application of 
pIX-words to Yahweh" and "the application of the pIS-words to 
Israel and to the individual." 116 

Cranfield's survey adequately presents the most significant data 
and exposes the judicial and ethical subcategories: 

Where sedek is used in connexion with the conduct of persons, it refers 
to the fulfillment of the obligations arising from a particular situation, 
the demands of a particular relationship. As far as Israel was con- 
cerned the supremely important relationship was the covenant between 
God and His people; and sedek in the OT is to be understood in the 
context of the Covenant. The adjective saddik is used to describe those 
whose conduct and character, whether specifically in relation to the 
administration of justice or quite generally, are characterized by sedek. 
But [italics added] there are passages in which saddik used of Israel or 
of the individual Israelite, refers to status rather than to ethical 
condition (see, for example, Ps. 32:1 1 in the light of vv. 1, 2 and 5; Isa. 
60:21). The cognate verb used in the Qal, can mean (i) "be just," "be 
righteous" (e.g. Job 35:7; Ps. 19:9 [MT:10]; 51:4 [MT:6]); (ii) "be in 
the right" in the sense of having a just cause (e.g. Gen. 38:26); (iii) "be 
justified," "be declared righteous" (e.g. Ps. 143:2; Isa. 43:26). In the 
Hiph c il (and occasionally in the Pi c el), it means "justify," "declare 
righteous," "acquit" (e.g. Exod. 23:7; Deut. 25:1; Prov. 17:15): there is 
also one place (Dan. 12:3), where the Hiph c il seems to mean "make 
righteous," "turn to righteousness." 7 

l3 Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 82-83. 

u Ibid. Cf. Cranfield, Romans, 1. 94. 

l5 Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 86-96. This data should be carefully 
surveyed. For treatments of a popular nature, see: A. B. Davidson, The Theology of the 
Old Testament, ed. by S. D. F. Salmond (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907) 
264-82; R. B. Girdlestone, Synonymns of the Old Testament (reprinted; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1973) 158ff.; L. J. Kuyper, "Righteousness and Salvation," SJT 30 (1977) 

"Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 86-92 and 93-96. 

l7 Cranfield, Romans, 1. 94. 


The existence of an ethical sense in some occurrences of p'HX in 
the Old Testament must not be disputed: "On many occasions . . . the 
'righteous' are those who, in humility and faithfulness, trust in 
Yahweh, despite persecution and oppression: those who seek to live 
uprightly and without pride of heart, depending on Yahweh for 
protection and vindication." 18 However, the question remains whether 
it is valid to categorize p ,r TX in Hab 2:4b as "just, righteous, in 
conduct and character . . . towards God." 19 

2. HJ71V in Genesis 15:6. As previously intimated, the judicial 
implications concerning the nature of any man who is designated p rr T? 
are not always given due credence. To Habakkuk or any godly Jew, the 
background of God's dealings with Abraham would be foundational: 
"Then he [i.e., Abraham] believed [|??N!T1] in the LORD; and He reck- 
oned it to him as righteousness [HplX 1V rDltf rpVj" (Gen 15:6). 20 
Of particular significance to this study is the observation that the roots 
of the two key words of Hab 2:4b (i.e., p ,r TX and H3TDX) are associated 
in this important verse from the Pentateuch. Also related to this 
judicial phenomenon is the delocutive employment of the Hiphil of 
p*7X (i.e., pHVI' to "pronounce in the right," "justify"). 21 These 
observations are germane to a balanced understanding of p ,r T? (and 
nri»X) in Hab 2:4b. 

Gowan believes that the term has a judicial nuance, based upon 
the occurrence of p'HX in antithetical contexts: "The word ... is used 
in a situation of controversy and contrast, to denote those whom God 
favors." 22 This argument does favor a non-ethical employment of 
p'Tif in Hab 2:4b, but it presents a slightly different perspective, one 
which cannot be ignored in the light of the larger context: 

18 Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 94. Hill's discussion of the ethical usages 
of p^lX is excellent. He points out that such usages are inextricably related to 
the attributes of the Lord associated with the p"7X-group of words [cf. the same 
phenomenon in reference to the |OX-group] (ibid., 92). Furthermore, "the suggested 
threefold development in the history of the plX-words may be of guidance in the 
understanding and interpretation of other religious and theological terms. This devel- 
opment takes the word from an association with man and his life (in this case, the 
'righteousness' of the king) to an association with Yahweh, and back again to man, 
with a richer content and colour drawn from its relation to deity" (ibid., 97). 

19 BDB 843. For an extended development of this ethical category, see: Dodd, The 
Bible and the Greeks, 42ff. 

20 For an important discussion of Hab 2:4 as it presupposes the foundational truths 
of God's dealings with Abraham (e.g., Gen 15:6) along with Paul's "Christian 
Midrash," see: E. E. Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1957) 117, n. 1; 119-20. Cf. W. B. Wallis, "The Translation of Romans 1:17— A Basic 
Motif in Paulinism," JETS 16 (1973) 22. 

21 R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline (2nd edition; Toronto and Buffalo: 
University of Toronto, 1976) 28. 

22 Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk, 42. It is fair to assume, however, that 
Gowan's thesis and conclusion concerning p ,,; TX in Hab 2:4b have been affected to a 
degree by his desire to demonstrate an antithetical substantive in H/SV (2:4a). Ibid. 


The just (Hebrew, tsaddik), the righteous one, is the one who has 
been vindicated, whom God has declared to be right. There is a legal 
background to this word; it denotes the winner in a case at law in some 
of its Old Testament uses. So it is not restricted in its reference to a 
purely internal quality of goodness which one may possess. It is used in 
situations of controversy to denote the side which is right. Its opposite 
is wicked (Hebrew, rasha c ), and we saw the two words paired in 1:4 and 
1:13 [italics added]. 23 

3. The Greek renderings. 2 * An important generalization is noted 
by Dodd: 

Where the Hebrew conception of righteousness differs from the popu- 
lar Greek conception we may put it thus, that whereas for the Greek 
8iKaioauvr| is always being pulled over from the broad sense of 
"righteousness" to the narrower sense of "justice," the pull in Hebrew 
is in the opposite direction. 25 

In the light of this, it is obvious that the Septuagint's renderings of 
the p"TX-words modified the Sikcuoc; words. These changes primarily 
reflect divine and covenantal influences found in the Hebrew word. 
NT usages basically follow this pattern: 

That Paul's use of the words Sucaioc;, 8iKavoauvr| and 5ikcuouv (and 
also of Sucaicopa and Sucaiwatc,) reflects his familiarity with, and is to 
a very considerable extent molded by, the LXX use of them to render 
words of the sdk group is clear, and is generally agreed. . . . But, in 
spite of the general agreement on the importance of the LXX here, 
there is far from being general agreement as to the precise significance 
which these words have in Paul. 26 

Ironically, it would seem that these observations and clarifications 
magnify the interpretive challenges relating to Hab 2:4b. 

Semantic considerations pertaining to rPIV 

This kind of life must be understood within its biblical frame- 

To live is not merely to exist, in Hebrew thought. One is not really 
alive when sick, weak, in danger or with a damaged reputation. To be 
alive is to have vigor, security and honor. So this verse does not merely 
tell us how we can barely hang on to some feeble thread of existence in 

23 Ibid., 41. 

24 See: Hill, " 5iKaio<; and Related Words in Greek Usage," in Greek Words and 
Hebrew Meanings, 98ff. 

25 Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, 45. For specific comparisons and contrasts, see: 
Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 102-3. 

26 Cranfield, Romans, 1. 95. Concerning the verb (i.e., SikciioOv), he especially notes 
that "none of the occurrences . . . can be at all tolerably explained on the basis of the 
word's use in secular Greek." Ibid. 


times such as Habakkuk describes; no, it speaks of being richly and 
fully alive. That interpretation is confirmed by 3: 17-1 8. 27 

Hill corroborates this interpretation, but with an ethical emphasis: 

Man's life, however, is more than simply length of days and 
abundance of possessions: it consists rather in what he is by virtue of 
his goals and ideals. . . . The pessimistic outlook which characterizes 
Ecclesiastes focuses attention on enjoyment, but in Proverbs the ideal is 
the good life, the life of righteousness. "In the paths of righteousness is 
life" (Prov. 12:28; cf. 11:19; 10:16); wisdom is the source and means of 

life (3:2; 8:35), and the fear of the Lord leads to life (19:23) We 

recall the utterance of Deut. 8:3, "Man lives (rPrP) by everything 
which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" .... Only by faithfulness, 
that is, by loyalty to Yahweh and his covenant, will the righteous man 
live (Hab. 2:4). In these instances the verb !"Pn connotes not only 
physical survival in a time of disaster, but also living in right relation to 
God. 28 

Ethical responsibilities, however, must not be used to distort the 
ultimate, theocentric foundation of biblical life. The most significant 
aspect of the Hebrew understanding of "life," is "its dependence on 
God." 29 Consequently, it is appropriate to classify the rPrP of Hab 
2:4b under the heading of the "pregnant sense of fulness of life in 
divine favour." 30 

Semantic considerations pertaining to irOTBKS 

The significance of H^DX in Hab 2:4b and in its mediate 
connection (i.e., through the Greek rendering niaxic,) to the NT 
references supersedes all the other hermeneutical challenges of this 

1. The usage o/nyiTDX. 31 The feminine noun H3TQX in the OT 
primarily connotes "firmness, steadfastness, fidelity." 32 Of particular 

27 Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk, 42-43. Cf. H. S. Bryant, "The 
Meaning of Habakkuk 2:4" (unpublished Bachelor of Divinity thesis, Grace Theologi- 
cal Seminary, 1966) 27-29, 34-36. Against this reference being merely an eschatological 
one, see: R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 
(Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1936) 87-88. Cranfield combines the abundant and eschato- 
logical life perspectives: Cranfield, Romans, 1. 101. 

28 Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 165. 

29 Ibid., 168. 

30 BDB 311. 

31 See esp.: "'Faith' and 'Truth' — an Examination of some Linguistic Arguments," 
chap. 7 of: J. Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (London: Oxford University, 
1961) 161-205. Also: ibid., 161, n. 1; and A. Jepsen, "JBX," TDOT 1. 292ff. 

32 BDB 53. For a helpful survey in chart form listing every occurrence, the KJV 
rendering, point of reference, and meaning, see: Bryant, "The Meaning of Habakkuk 
2:4," 20-24. 


significance is the employment of the word in the sense of "faithful- 
ness." 33 When referring to God, this usage reflects a divine attribute 
often paralleled with his 1DU or his plX (cf. Pss 88:12; 89:2, 3, 6, 9, 
25; 96:13; 98:3; 119:90; 143:1; Isa 25:1; Hos 2:22 [all versifications 
from Hebrew Bible]). The word has a passive meaning in the over- 
whelming number of cases; note the following excerpts from Light- 
foot's research: 

It will thus be seen that H31QN properly represents the passive sense of 
niaxic,, as indeed the form of the word shows. . . . Thus in its biblical 
usage the word IT31EN can scarcely be said ever to have the sense 
"belief, trust," though sometimes approaching towards it. . . . Unlike 
the Hebrew, the Greek word seems to have started from the active 
meaning. ... In the Old Testament, there being no Hebrew equivalent 
to the active meaning, niotic, has always the passive sense, "fidelity," 
"constancy," unless the passage in Habakkuk be regarded as an 
exception. 34 

Thus, there would be no debate regarding the significance of 
nyiTDN in Hab 2:4b if its usage was determined by statistical precedent. 
For this reason, many would conclude that " D emunah seems ... to 
emphasize one's own inner attitude and the conduct it produces" 35 
and that its significance is "constancy in executing and fulfilling the 
commands of God through all uncertainty and conflict." 36 Neverthe- 
less, the usage of H31DX in Hab 2:4b could be regarded as transitional 
and consequently could be construed to bear a double sense (i.e., 
both active and passive). 37 In the light of this possibility, further 
pursuits are necessary. 

2. The theoretical root [|Z?N]. After a survey of the cognates of 
]QK (e.g., Arabic, Ethiopic, South Arabic, Syriac, etc.), 38 one might 
be led to conclude unreservedly that "the basic idea underlying the 
root is that of firmness or fixity" 39 and that: 

"Ibid.; cf. usage category 3. Also, see usage category 4 in: KB 1. 60. 

34 J. B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians (reprinted; Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1957) 155. 156. Lightfoot's whole excursus, "The words denoting 'Faith,'" 
should be studied; it is a valuable synopsis (ibid., 154-58). 

"Jepsen, TDOT 1. 317. 

36 G. Quell and G. Schrenk, "5iicr|, 5ucmo<;, 5tKaioouvr|, ktL," TDNT2. 177. Cf.: 
"The idea [in Hab 2:4b] is that of unwavering hold of the word of God against all 
contrary appearances" (O. Michel, "7tioxi<;," NIDNTT 1. 597). 

"Lightfoot, Galatians, 155. The contention that the usage of H3TQK in Hab 2:4b is 
transitional and that it actually attains to an active meaning is actively supported and 
delineated by Barn Semantics, 201. 

38 Cf. Barr, Semantics, 185-86. 

39 Dodd The Bible and the Greeks, 66. Dodd, along with others, would also argue 
that "the Greek translators show themselves aware of this by occasionally translating 


When a Hebrew heard the various words derived from the root ^mn, 
the basic idea that came to his mind was apparently "constancy." 
When they were used of things, they meant "continual"; and when they 
were connected with persons, "reliability." 40 

Nevertheless, Jepsen interjects a crucial qualification: "However, 
derivatives could have special meanings in any given context." 41 This 
qualification is the polemical standard of Barr: 

Even assuming, therefore, that the "ultimate" etymology of words 
of the root 3 -m-n is "firmness," we have here an illustration of the 
harm of paying excessive atention to the most ultimate etymology and 
failing to consider what forms were current at the relevant times and 
what senses they bore in actual usage. Extant forms are not derived 
directly from the ultimate etymology or from the "root meaning." 
There is a detailed and often complicated history for each form; the 
fact that for lack of knowledge we often cannot trace it does not mean 
that we can suppose it does not exist. 42 

The significance of Barr's statement is more clearly seen if it is 
remembered that the Qal perfect of ]0S is not attested in biblical 

Built upon the above semantic hypothesis is Barr's suggestion that 
historically there are really two spheres of the evolution of the usage of 
H3TDN. 43 The discussion of this debate will be restricted to the biblical 

t v: 

data. Dodd's introductory comments are germane: 

In the vocabulary of religion and ethics the verb is chiefly used (i) in the 
niphal participle, which bears the passive meaning "made firm," "con- 
firmed," "established," and so "trustworthy," "faithful"; and (ii) in the 
hiphil, which means "to be convinced," "to trust." 44 

On one side are those who would historically relate the usage of 
nyiDN exclusively to the Niphal verbal. Many would argue that in the 
absence of corresponding substantives for the Hiphil's active sense 

the words from this root by such expressions as orripi^Eiv, aTf)piyua" (ibid.). 
However, Barr registers some legitimate objections to such arguments. Cf. Barr, 
Semantics, 166-71. 

40 Jepsen, TDOT 1. 322-23. 

41 Ibid., 323. 

42 Barr, Semantics, 187. For Barr's polemic against the "fundamental meaning" 
syndrome which leads to the "root fallacy" complication in relation to JON, see: ibid., 
161 f f . He argues against "an illegitimate confusion of theological and linguistic 
methods" (163). His argument is well taken; however, theological presuppositions are 
never totally set aside, as illustrated sporadically within his own discussion. 

43 See his argument: ibid., 186-87. 

44 Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, 66. 


(cf. Aramaic XmSOTt, "faith")," "the substantives n?DK, H31QN, 

\ t t •■ y v v: ▼ v: 

represent the sense of the niphal, 'steadfastness,' 'trustworthiness,' 
'faithfulness'" 45 Therefore, H3TON would be taken to denote "trust- 

t v: 

worthiness, the frame of mind which can be relied upon." 46 

On the other side are those who would emphasize an overriding 
relationship of H31DK to | , pNn. Barr argues that "... the whole 
structure built upon the supposed 'fundamental meaning' of the root 
collapses as soon as real attention is given to the verb he^emin 
'believe'" 47 This relationship (i.e., of H3T?DX to I'pXH) is developed to 
support an active sense for the substantive (i.e., H3TOX = "trustful- 
ness, the frame of mind which relies on another" 48 ). Vitally related to 
this argument is the discussion of the function of the Hiphil of fTpXH. 
This is adequately attended by Barr, who opts for an "internal- 
transitive" function as opposed to a "declarative-estimative" function. 49 
Up to this point, the examination of this semantic debate has not 
been complicated by mediating positions; however, there are many 
who rightly contend that construing H3TZDX as exclusively passive or 
as exclusively active upsets a fine biblical balance. For this reason, a 
mediating position is undoubtedly the preferable way of striving for 
theological harmony of all the scriptural data. Unfortunately, there 
are varieties of mediating positions which multiply the complexity of 
this pursuit for balance. At least two major varieties are worthy of 
mention. For convenience, they might be labeled lexical (i.e., the word 
H310N as it relates to both its active and passive historical spheres) 
and contextual (i.e., the context of IT3T7DN in Hab 2:4b, especially the 
relationship of p ,r TX in its largest context). Presuppositions are also 
obvious in these mediating positions; however, as previously inti- 
mated, this is unavoidable. Consequently, a continuous evaluation of 
one's presuppositions is mandatory in order to determine whether 
they are valid or invalid as measured by the theological totality of 

Eadie's generalization concerning the rt3TDN of man serves as a 
fitting introduction to a mediating position: "The idea of steadfast- 
ness expressed by the Hebrew noun implies faith." 50 An essentially 

45 Ibid., 68. Cf. ibid. 59ff.; Lightfoot, Galatians, 155; and, Barr, Semantics, 173, 
198, 201-5. 

46 Lightfoot's delineation of the passive sense: Galatians, 154. 

47 Barr, Semantics, 164. For some pertinent observations on moTeueiv with the 
dative paralleling "2 I'PKH, see: Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, 66-68. 

48 Lightfoot, Galatians, 154. 

49 Barr, Semantics, 176ff. His argument corroborates his earlier assertion that "the 
subject of the verb he^emin is frequently or normally a man" (ibid., 164). 

50 Eadie, Galatians, 244. 


credible argument for a balanced conception of H3TDS may be noted 
in Keil's presentation: 

nyiQX does not denote "an honourable character, or fidelity to convic- 
tion" (Hitzig), but . . . firmness (Ex. xvii. 12); then, as an attribute of 
God, trustworthiness, unchangeable fidelity in the fulfillment of His 
promises (Deut. xxxii. 4; Ps. xxxiii. 4, lxxxix. 34); and, as a personal 
attribute of man, fidelity in word and deed (Jer. vii. 28, ix. 2; Ps. xxxvii. 
3); and, in his relation to God, firm attachment to God, an undisturbed 
confidence in the divine promises of grace, firma fiducia and fides, so 
that in D emundh the primary meanings of ne^eman and he^erriin are 
combined. This is also apparent from the fact that Abraham is called 
ne^emdn in Neh. ix. 8, with reference to the fact that it is affirmed of 
him in Gen. xv. 6 that HiPPS pTpSn, "he trusted, or believed, the 
Lord;" and still more indisputably from the passage before us, since it 
is impossible to mistake the reference in rPFP injTDJO p ,r T? to Gen. 
xv. 6, "he believed (he D emTn) in Jehovah, and He reckoned it to him 
litseddqdh." 51 

It is obvious that a balanced conception of H31?DN in Hab 2:4b 
will avoid the error of taking the words to mean that one is justified 
by character. It will also avoid synergistic conceptions of the non- 
biblical variety. 52 At the same time, n310N may be conceived of as a 
"fruit of faith": "faithful faith" or "steadfast trust." 53 Bryant, after 
discussing the active and passive options for H3TDX and leaning 
towards an emphasis upon the former, concludes: 

It must be carefully maintained that neither the Old nor the New 
Testament separate faith from its fruits of faithfulness. The distinction 
between faith and faithfulness is somewhat artificial, for ... in the long 

51 Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 73. "And in addition to this, °emundh is opposed to the 
pride of the Chaldaean, to his exaltation of himself above God; and for that very 
reason it cannot denote integrity in itself, but simply some quality which has for its 
leading feature humble submission to God, that is to say, faith, or firm reliance upon 
God" (ibid., 74). For more discussion on the theocentric footing of an anthropological 
manifestation of fidelity, see: C. von Orelli, The Old Testament Prophecy of the 
Consummation of God's Kingdom, trans, by J. S. Banks (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 
1885) 325-27; Delitzsch, Hebrews, 2. 200; and J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older 
Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962) 314. For corroborations of a mediating 
position in general, see: Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament, 119-20; Johnson, "The 
Gospel That Paul Preached," 340, n. 31; Lightfoot, Galatians, 154ff. 

52 A good illustration would be the DSS pesher of Hab 2:4b. For discussion, see: 
G. Bertram, "avvepyoq, auvepyeco," TDNT 7. 873. 

"Bryant, "The Meaning of Habakkuk 2:4," 32, 41, 62. Cf. von Orelli's "believing 
fidelity" (i.e., a trusting faithfulness based upon God's fidelity; C. von Orelli, The 
Twelve Minor Prophets, trans, by J. S. Banks [reprinted; Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 
1977] 248). 


run they are the same thing. The Bible knows nothing of a true faith 
which does not hold fast its confidence to the end. 54 

Syntactical considerations 

The preposition 2 attached to H31DN is obviously instrumental. 
Von Orelli suggests that the "3 introduces the efficient medium of the 
preservation of life, as in Ezek. xviii. 22. " 55 Also, the whole phrase 
(i.e., inriBX3) should be taken with WW, not with p ,r TVl- 56 


The larger context 

The book. An awareness of the destructive attempts to transpose 
major sections of chaps. 1 and 2 of Habakkuk enables the interpreter 
to identify eccentric contextual associations relating to Hab 2:4b. 57 
The traditional order of the text of the first two chapters constitutes 
the larger context: 

The text, as it now stands, permits a perfectly natural development of 
the prophet's thought; in reality, the development becomes more vivid, 
for instead of one problem that perplexes the prophet we have two, and 
instead of one divine reply we have two. Surely there is nothing 
impossible or improbable in this. . . . On the whole, the . . . interpreta- 
tion, which requires no omissions or transpositions, seems to satisfy 
most completely the facts in the case. 58 

54 Ibid., 49; cf. 44-49. Michel concurs: "To sum up, it may be said that he^emin and 
^emunah describe a living act of trust in the OT, and also the dimension of human 
existence in a historical situation" (Michel, "Tticmc,," 597). Cf. W. Eichrodt, Theology 
of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967), 2. 285. Herein it would be 
profitable to compare the evidence from Gen 15:6/Rom 4:3 and Gen 22:1-19/Jas 2:14- 
24; etc. 

55 Von Orelli, The Old Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of God's Kingdom, 
325, n. 2. 

56 Cf. Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 73; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's 
Epistles to the Galatians. to the Ephesians, and to the Philippians (Minneapolis: Augs- 
burg, 1937) 143-44; and the forthcoming discussion of eic tuotewc, in Rom 1:17. 

"For discussions of the major critical conjectures, see: A. Jeffers, "A Commentary 
on the Book of Habakkuk" (unpublished Master of Theology thesis, Grace Theologi- 
cal Seminary, 1960) 14-17; C. L. Taylor, Jr., "Introduction and Exegesis of the Book of 
Habakkuk," in The Interpreter's Bible, ed. by G. A Buttrick, et al. (New York: 
Abingdon, 1956), 6. 975-77; G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets (London: 
Hodder and Stoughton, 1906), 2. 115ff.; F. T. Kelly, "The Strophic Structure of 
Habakkuk," AJSL 18 (1901-2) 94ff.; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 932-37. 

58 F. C. Eiselen, The Minor Prophets (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1907) 467-68. 
Refutations of transpositions based upon elaborate chiastic fabrications are neither 


The "placarded revelation" 59 

In Hab 2:2-3, the prophet is given instructions which clearly 
suggest the priority of this fiTn (v 2). These verses "form the 
introduction to the Word of God, which the prophet receives in reply 
to his cry of lamentation addressed to the Lord in ch. i. 12-17. " 60 
Though Keil would include v 1 of chap 2 in this introduction, it is 
better to regard Hab 2:1 as transitional. It is the climactic summons 
of the prophet's second lament (i.e., 1:12-2:1). 

Verse 2 is particularly significant: "Then the LORD answered me 
and said, 'Write down [3iH3] the vision and make it plain upon the 
tablets [nln/H'Ty] in order that one who reads it may run.'" 
Interestingly, Holt paraphrases the last part of v 2: " 'so he who reads 
it may live obediently."' 61 He, of course, is taking pn metaphorically 
(cf. metaphorical ^/H; cf. also "pi in Ps 119:32, and the running 
metaphors of the NT, e.g., 1 Cor 9:24-27, Phil 3:13-14, etc.). This 
view is at least worthy of some consideration in the light of the 
ethically climactic context. nin^H generates most of the discussion 
which ultimately pertains to Hab 2:4b. It has been suggested that the 
article implies particular tablets which were displayed publicly; 62 
however, this is an unnecessary conjecture. 63 "The article . . . may 
only designate the tablets which were to be employed for the purpose. 
It may merely indicate these as definite in the mind of the speaker." 64 

The plural termination has been employed to substantiate a 
larger scope (cf. below) for this "placarded revelation." 65 But, the 

desirable nor credible. Cf. H. H. Walker and N. W. Lund, "The Literary Structure of 
the Book of Habakkuk," JBL 53 (1934) 360. For outlines and discussions of the 
traditional order, see: Eiselen, The Minor Prophets, 464-65; von Orelli, The Old 
Testament Prophecy of God's Kingdom, 323-24; and Hendriksen's contextual para- 
phrase: Hendriksen, Exposition of Galatians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968) 127-28. 

59 I.e., Brownlee's appropriate terminology pertaining to this contextual challenge: 
Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of Habakkuk," 319. 

60 Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 67-68. 

61 J. M. Holt, "So He May Run Who Reads It," JBL 83 (1964) 301. For a 
presentation of the traditional interpretations of the words involving facility in the 
communication and/or dissemination of this vision, see: Henderson, The Twelve Minor 
Prophets, 301. 

62 E.g., T. Laetsch, Bible Commentary: The Minor Prophets (St. Louis: Concordia, 
1956) 330; cf. Ewald's view as delineated in Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 

63 Cf. P. Kleinert, "Habakkuk" in Minor Prophets, trans, by C. Elliott, in Commen- 
tary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. by J. P. Lange (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.) 22. 

"Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 301. 

"Kleinert so argues: "The reason that several tablets are mentioned here, and not 
one, as in Isaiah [8:1], is found in the rich and various contents of the five-fold woe" 
(Kleinert, "Habakkuk," 22). 


plural could also be explained in the following manner: "The 'tablets' 
or 'plaques' represent multiple copies, each of which is to be set up in 
a prominent place." 66 It is no wonder that Laetsch admits that "just 
how long the inscription to be written by Habakkuk was is hard to 
tell." 67 Nevertheless, a survey of the pertinent syntactical data and the 
major positions is required. 

1. Its scope. Five separate viewpoints concerning the length of 
the inscription can be distinguished; two view it as short, and three as 
long. The two "short" views are summarized adequately by Brownlee: 

Scholars who look for a brief text as the placarded revelation of 
Habakkuk usually restrict it to 2:4, interpreting 2:5-6a as an introduc- 
tion to a taunt song over the fall of Babylon. However, J.M.P. Smith in 
An American Translation links vss. 4-5 together in a separate para- 
graph, and the RSV has followed suit. The argument for including 
these two verses is that the particles we D af ki at the beginning of vs. 5 
are conjunctive. 68 

The ""'S ^NT is syntactically important. This fact must be recog- 
nized regardless of the problem involved. It is suggested that the 
either/or option might be sensibly replaced by a both/and perspective 
in reference to the development of the argument. It seems best to take 
the binder as "and furthermore," 69 or "moreover, in addition." 70 
Emerton's suggestion will be accepted: "The words we^ap ki, with 
which verse 5 begins, link it to verse 4 and suggest that it is part of 
God's answer to the prophet . . . ." 71 Consequently, v 4 can be 
understood as the crucial lesson of God's disclosure which was to be 
recorded (i.e., the unrighteous one's essence is perverted), and vv 5ff. 

66 Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of Habakkuk," 321 On the parenthetical 
data of v 3, see: W. H. Brownlee, "The Composition of Habakkuk," in Hommages a 
Andre Dupont-Sommer (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1971) 264. For eschatological remarks 
which should be reviewed guardedly, see: F. Delitzsch, Hebrews, 2. 198-99. For a 
profitable discussion of the exegetical data of v 3, see: Henderson, The Twelve Minor 
Prophets, 301-2. 

67 Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 330. Cf. Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of 
Habakkuk," 319. 

68 Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of Habakkuk," 321 (Brownlee offers a 
commendable survey of the data and issues: ibid., 319-25). Cf. Lehrman's option for vv 
4-5: Lehrman, "Habakkuk," 219. Also, von Orelli (for v 4): von Orelli, The Old 
Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of God's Kingdom, 323-24, 327. 

69 BDB 65. 

70 Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 332. Cf. his discussion: ibid., 331-32. For an expanded 
treatment of the syntactical possibilities (including a potential correlation with the (1371 
of v 4), see: Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problem of Habakkuk II.4-5," 1-2, 
4-5. Cf. Brownlee, "The Composition of Habakkuk," 265, n. 2. 

71 Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 1. 


could be conceived of as the consequent lesson (i.e., the unrighteous 
one's actions are perverted). 

Only one of the three major suggestions for a longer scope is 
worthy of development. The other two, the "vision" to be recorded 
refers to the revelation of 1:5-11, and the ]lTn should be taken 
literally as a reference to the theophany of chap. 3, are surveyed by 
Brownlee. They are not viable options. 72 The viable suggestion per- 
tains to the "1WN clause commencing at v 2:5b. This binder suggests 
that the divine disclosure to be recorded is not to be restricted 
exclusively to the contents of Hab 2:4-5a. Keil notes that "the 
allusion to the Chaldaean is evident from the relative clause which 
follows, and which Delitzsch very properly calls an individualizing 
exegesis to TTP n2J." 73 

Prior to a contextual summary, it must be noted that there is also 
a piece of logical syntax which continues this interwoven disclosure; 
the obvious antecedent of D?D !Y7X (v 6) is D'TS^If/D, who are the 
objects of the oppressor's tyranny. 74 Based upon the above observa- 
tions, it is most likely that the "placarded revelation" extends beyond 
the disclosure of v 4. It is suggested, therefore, that v 4 be considered 
the primary "general principle to be applied in a particular case as 
here with the ungodly Chaldeans." 75 (The revelation of Hab 2:5a 
could be viewed as a secondary or supplemental maxim.) 

The immediate context 

"The immediate context of vs. 4b (i.e., vss. 4a and 5a)," Gowan 
concedes, "is about as difficult as any part of the Old Testament to 
understand." 76 Three major problems are usually cited. First, it is 
often assumed that there is a "lost subject" 77 in Hab 2:4a. As an 
example, Taylor argues that "a noun form is expected as a counter- 
part to righteous, which occurs in the second half of the verse; 'the 
wicked' would be normal and is found in the Aramaic paraphrase 

72 See: Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of Habakkuk," 319-21. 

73 Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 75; cf. 2. 71. Cf.: Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation 
of Habakkuk," 321 (however, see: Brownlee, "The Composition of Habakkuk," 265). 
On the discussion of n\E*N introducing an independent relative clause, see: GKC 

74 Cf. Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 3. 

75 Bryant, "The Meaning of Habakkuk 2:4," 59-60. Cf. von Orelli's "mashal-like 
principle" (The Old Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of Gods Kingdom, 327) 
and Brownlee's "aphorism" ("The Composition of Habakkuk," 265). For further 
discussion on these general principles and their application to the nearest historical 
reference point (i.e., Babylon), see: Kleinert, "Habakkuk," 22, 24. 

76 Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk, 44. 

"Brownlee, "The Composition of Habakkuk," 265. 


(Targ.)." 78 Second, it is also argued that a leading verb in the same 
line is missing (i.e., one parallel to the TPrP of 2:4b). 79 Finally, it is 
alleged that the reference to "wine" in Hab 2:5a is incongruous; 
Gowan facetiously brings this out when he comments: 

In the RSV, "but the righteous shall live by his faith," is followed by, 
"Moreover, wine is treacherous," and somehow that doesn't seem the 
place for a temperance lesson. This is a really frustrating passage for an 
exegete, for it seems that now we have come to the pivotal point of the 
book, and we're not sure what verse 5a means! 80 

Habakkuk 2:4a. Southwell looks for the '"missing subject'" in 
nilTT; he conjectures that it should be revocalized 11371 from the root 
7F13, rendering it "the eminent man." 81 However, it is best to under- 
stand 71371 in its normal sense as an interjection: "behold!" 82 It is 
usually an "interrupting call for attention." 83 

7I79V presents a seemingly impossible challenge of decipherment. 
A broad perspective on the problems involved is gained by Keil's 
general comment: "The early translators and commentators have 
taken this hemistich differently. They divide it into protasis and 
apodosis, and take TI^SV either as the predicate or as the subject." 84 
Emerton's synopsis of the factors contributing to the complication is 

The difficulty is to determine the meaning of the obscure word 
c uppelah, and to find the right way of construing it with the other 
words in this part of the verse. The word appears to be the third person 
feminine singular perfect pu c al of c pl. B.D.B. distinguishes between two 
different roots c pl. To root I belong the noun c 6palim, "hemorrhoids," 
and also the place Ophel, to which B.D.B. ascribes the meaning 
"mound, hill." The Arabic noun c afalun, "tumour," is compared, and 
it is suggested that the meaning of the Hebrew verb is "swell." The 

78 Taylor, "Introduction and Exegesis of the Book of Habakkuk," 988-89. How- 
ever, some would argue that such a subject (viz., the Chaldean) is "inferred." Cf. Keil, 
Minor Prophets, 2. 72. 

"For conjectures which are tailored to fit this assumption, see Emerton's survey: 
Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 15-16. 

80 Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk, 44. 

81 Southwell, "A Note on Habakkuk ii.4," 616-17. He deletes ity^Hb on 
metrical grounds. For an outline of his position with challenges of its weaknesses, see: 
Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 13-14. 

82 Cf. the Ugaritic hn II (UT 391) and the Akkadian annuma, "now" (KB 238). 

83 KB 238-39; BDB 243-44. Cf. Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of 
Habakkuk II.4-5," 11. The possibility of a syntactical correlation with the '3 ^KT of 
v 5 has previously been mentioned as a possible option; however, more evidence is 
desirable. Cf. Brownlee, "The Composition of Habakkuk," 265. 

84 Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 72. 


only place where the verb occurs in the Hebrew Bible is Hab. ii.4, and 
B.D.B. expresses doubt about the correctness of the text. Root II 
occurs in Num. xiv.44 .... B.D.B. thinks that the verb there perhaps 
means "be heedless," and compares Arabic gafala, "be heedless, 
neglectful, inadvertent." It may be noted that none of the ancient 
versions of Hab. ii.4 supports either of the two meanings of the root 
given by B.D.B. The LXX has [edv] uTtoo-Teilnjai ("If he should draw 
back"), Aquila vwxekeuouEvou ("the slothful"), the Vulgate "qui 
incredulus est," the Peshitta wab Q awwala the [sic] ("and in the wicked 
man") or wab c awla D ("and in iniquity"), and the Targum rassT c ayya^ 
("the wicked"). 85 

To this needs to be added a significant observation by Brownlee: 
"H/DIS? at vii. 14 confirms both text and vocalization of Mt 2:4 

In spite of the significance of the last piece of evidence, there still 
remain "theories that find in c uppelah a word for blameworthy 
person" and "theories that find in c uppelah a word denoting the 
downfall of the wicked." 87 Most advocates of the former theory offer 
their suggestions based upon the assumption that T17BV is "strictly 
antithetical to p ,r TX." 88 Supporters of the latter theory consider nVS37 
to be antithetical to 7VJV. Emerton adds a conjecture of his own. It 

85 Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 11. A 
suggested rendering of the LXX would be, "If he draw back, my soul is not well 
pleased with him." And, for Aquila, "Behold, the lazy, my soul is not straight with 
him." Cf. Taylor, "Introduction and Exegesis of the Book of Habakkuk," 988. On 
bnooxE.'kXv}, see: LSJ 1895-96; TDNT, 1. 597-99. For more commentary on the Greek 
divergencies, see: B. F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1950) 337-38; and Bruce, Hebrews, 272, n. 195. Cf. Driver's undesirable conjecture 
based upon Aquila (cf. /Dl? II in KB 723): G. R. Driver, "Linguistic and Textual 
Problems: Minor Prophets III," JTS 39 (1938) 395. For undesirable conjectures based 
upon the Syriac, see: Kelly, "The Strophic Structure of Habakkuk," 103, n. 15. 
Henderson well notes that "the Syr. . . . wickedness, is founded upon a mistake of 
rt7Sy for il/iy." Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 303. Brownlee's synopsis of 
the data is pertinent: "The versions seem to have read quite differently, G's rendering 
i)7ioaT£i^.r|Tai, Aq's vcflxeiceuouevou , and the Palestinian recension's . . . [a]Koua all 
seem to be based upon V^/J? , which in the Pu c al means "be covered, obscure, swoon." 
T is too paraphrastic to be of assistance here, nor can one be sure of the Vorlage of the 
Latin; but in both is the thought of unbelief read into the verb, an interpretation which 
could rest upon VpS? taken to refer to a giving-up in despair through insufficient 
faith in the promises of God. . . . G. R. Driver . . . suggests that the Vorlage of Aq. and 
V was /Dyn, which after the Arabic ... he interprets to mean 'the heedless man'" 
(Brownlee, The Text of Habakkuk in the Ancient Commentary from Qumran, 43-44). 

86 Brownlee, The Text of Habakkuk in the Ancient Commentary from Qumran, 43. 

"Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 14, 15. 

88 Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 303. He suggests that H/Si? be con- 
strued as "an abstract noun, used elliptically for Tv?BV tf^X, a man of arrogance or 
presumption, and so to be rendered adjectively, the proud, presumptuous, &c." (ibid.). 


would fall into the latter category "denoting the downfall of the 
wicked." Its advantage is that it does not change the consonantal text 
but only divides nVsV into TV? *]$. He construes the following 
portion of the line as a relative clause (as do others), and renders the 
line: "Behold, he whose personality within him is not upright will fly 
away (i.e., pass away, perish [i.e., antithetical to rPJP in 2:4b])." 89 
Though there are advantages to his conjecture, its weakness is its 

Lexically, an association with 7DJ? I is preferable. 90 In view of 
the likely parallelism with rnttf^'K/, 91 a metaphorical extension of 
nVsV is the best interpretation: 

His soul is puffed up. ri/SV , perf. pual of 7?y , of which the hiphil only 
occurs in Num. xiv.44, and that as synonymous with TTH in Deut. i.43. 
From this, as well as from the noun /D57, a hill or swelling we get the 
meaning, to be swollen up, puffed up, proud; and in the hiphil, to act 
haughtily or presumptuously. 92 

An apparently similar lexical survey undergirds von Orelli's conclu- 
sion: "Such hollow self-exaltation has been from the time of Gen. iii. 
a mark of a world estranged from God, and has its root in ethical 
impurity." 93 

Syntactically, there still remains the problem of rendering this 
verb in the light of the remainder of the line. Considering the force of 
Hlin and the concord of gender, it seems best to render it indefinitely 
as a maxim and appositionally with the climactic addition of the 
assertion which follows it: "Behold, it [i.e. his internal self, cf. 
13 Itt^D?] is swollen, his soul within him is not level; but a righteous 
one should live by his faithfulness." 

The "W\ in rntE^"N?? most likely possesses a metaphorically 
extended sense (i.e., ethical). 94 Brownlee suggests the rendering 

One will observe . . . that the translation "humble" for yasherah is 
according to the context. The root idea in this figurative word is 

89 Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 16-17. 

90 Cf. KB 723. 

91 Cf. Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 302. 

92 Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 72. 

93 Von Orelli, The Old Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of God's Kingdom, 

94 Cf. Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk 11.4-5," 11; 
Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, 42ff. On the full writing in the Qumran text, see: 
Brownlee, The Text of Habakkuk in the Ancient Commentary from Qumran, 44. For 
general data with the important cognates, see: KB 413-14. 


"level," not "vertical" — although the well-nigh universal English trans- 
lation "upright" would seem to suggest the latter. The verb is used for 
the leveling of hills and valleys in Isa. 40:3. In Hab. 2:4, where levelness 
is antithetical to "puffed up," it is clear that the word means humility. 
The essence of sin according to all the Hebrew prophets is pride and 
rebellion . . . , 95 

UJD3 (in 12 itt?p3), of course, has a wide range of usage. 

In this context, the word nejzes seems to denote something like 'per- 
sonality,' and the clause in which it appears should probably be 
translated 'his personality within him is not upright.' ... If so, it says 
that the person to whom it refers has a bad character. 96 

Habakkuk 2:5a. Lehrman notes that Hab 2:5a is "a very difficult 
verse which has been variously explained by the older commentators 
and given up as unintelligible by the moderns." 97 The variants 
represented by the versions here present the greatest challenge. 98 

J^n is the leading challenge. An excerpt from the text found in 
the Qumran commentary reads YU3'' pH (i.e. "Wealth is [or will be] 
treacherous" 99 ). Emerton argues for this variant and bolsters his 
contention with evidence which would support the fact that "a saying 
about the treacherous nature of wealth would be in keeping with 
what is said about it in wisdom literature . . . ." 10 ° Certainly, this 
reading is worthy of consideration. 101 

Nevertheless, the Hebrew text as it stands is not unintelligible. 
Textually, it should be noted that "the paraphrastic renderings of T 
and V suggest a Vorlage in appropriate agreement with MT." 102 |^H 
also has proverbial connections (cf. Prov 20:1; Hos 4:11; Isa 5:11; Jer 
23:9; Eccl 10:19). 103 Historically, a maxim concerning "wine" would 

95 Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of Habakkuk," 324-25. The objective 
negation ( X7 ) of the text should be noted. 

96 Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II .4-5," 11. 

97 Lehrman, "Habakkuk," 219. 

98 Cf. Brownlee's detailed outline of the textual data: Brownlee, The Text of 
Habakkuk in the Ancient Commentary from Qumran, 45-50. 

"Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II. 4-5," 8. 

100 Ibid., 8. Cf. his evidence, 8-9. 

'"'Emendations based upon the Greek renderings are totally unacceptable. For an 
example, see: Brownlee, "The Placarded Revelation of Habakkuk," 324. For argu- 
ments against conjectures based upon the Greek readings, see: Emerton, "The Textual 
and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 1-2, 9. 

102 Brownlee, The Text of Habakkuk in the Ancient Commentary from Qumran, 46. 
"TUG"' pn (or Tir ]"\7\) at vii.3 is a radical departure from Mt 2:5 T3Q pn" 
(ibid. 45). 

""Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 7. 


be particularly appropriate as its truth could be related to and 
illustrated by the Chaldeans (cf. Daniel 5). 104 

Keil's summary of the second portion of the line is helpful: 

The following words ^'H^ "1331 are not the object to "7}l3, but form a 
fresh sentence, parallel to the preceding one: a boasting man, he 
continueth not, K/l introduces the apodosis to ITF HDJ, which is 
written absolutely. "FTP only occurs again in Prov. xxi. 24, and is used 
there as a parallel to IT: dtax^cov (LXX), swaggering, boasting. 105 

rnr is apparently a denominative hapax legomenon: "move, walk to a 
place {nomads to pasture).'''' 106 From this, it is possible (based upon an 
Arabic parallel) that the intent of !T13^ would be "reach one's aim." 101 
A suggested rendering for Hab 2:5a would be: "Wine is treacherous, 
a proud man, and he will not be successful." An advantage of this 
rendering is that it is somewhat analogous to the divergent metrical 
pattern already recognized and accepted in 2:4a. This rendering is one 
rejected by Emerton (on the basis of its personification) after com- 
parison to two other renderings: 

(b) Wine deals treacherously with the proud man, and he will not be 
successful, (c) Wine is treacherous, and the proud man will not be 
successful. Translation (b), which understands the verb bgd to take a 
direct object as in Ps. lxxiii. 15, should probably be rejected, because 
the natural division into lines of poetry is against it. In translation (c), 
the first two words of the second line are understood to be in casus 
pendens. xm 

Logical parallels. In the light of the multiplicity of challenges 
relating to Hab 2:4a and 2:5a, it might seem that the immediate 
context is basically unintelligible. However, it should be obvious 
already that the basic argument of the passage is not obscured. 
Logical parallels compensate for particular points of uncertainty. 
Gowan's reconstructions, although they do not harmonize totally 
with previously chosen options, do lead to a proper understanding of 
the crucial issue: 

104 Cf. Lehrman, "Habakkuk," 219; Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 304. 
See, also: Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 332-33. 

105 Keil, Minor Prophets, 2. 75. Concerning T7P, see: Emerton, "The Textual and 
Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II. 4-5," 5. 

106 KB 601. Cf. BDB 627. 

107 KB 601 (note their uncertainty). On both the significance of the Arabic parallel 
and challenges concerning the pointing of the verb as a Qal, see: Driver, "Linguistic 
and Textual Problems: Minor Prophets III," 395; and Emerton, "The Textual and 
Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 5. 

108 Emerton, "The Textual and Linguistic Problems of Habakkuk II.4-5," 6. 


If we find that we cannot have any real confidence (at present) in 
any of these suggestions, then clearly the crucial question for us is 
whether there is still a possibility of understanding vs. 4b in terms of its 
larger context, and I believe that there is. A contrast certainly is being 
presented between two ways: the way of vs. 4b and that of vs. 4a and 
possibly also 5a. So "life" in 4b is contrasted with the distortion of the 
person in 4a, and possibly also with the lack of endurance in 5a. 
"Righteousness'" in 4b is contrasted with that negative quality of which 
we are uncertain in 4a and perhaps also with treachery and arrogance 
in 5a. What makes the difference between the two ways is faithfulness, 
and so we must try to see how that speaks to all that has gone before in 
Habakkuk. 109 


Three times in the NT Hab 2:4b is employed in crucial lines of 
argumentation. There are contextual affinities between Paul's lines of 
argument in Rom 1:17 and Gal 3:11; however, these contexts are 
essentially different from the contextual thrust of Hab 2:4b. 110 The 
employment of Habakkuk's text in Heb 10:38 (cf. vv 37-38), however, 
does reflect a degree of affinity in reference to OT and NT contexts. 
Ellis' generalizations concerning these phenomena are helpful as a 
footing upon which to build an investigation: 

Hab. 2.4 is cited by Paul (Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11) to show that 
righteousness is not achieved through obedience to the law but through 
faith; the author of Hebrews uses the same passage to describe the 
proper attitude of the Christian toward the trials of life. In each case 
the life of the true believer rests on faith, but the application of the 
passage varies. 111 

It is difficult to discern how many and how valid are Ellis' presup- 
positions in reference to the last sentence in this quote. It is appro- 
priate to reiterate a major reason for the multiplicity of hermeneutical 
challenges relating to Hab 2:4b and its employment in the NT. Many 
interpreters have approached the problem in reverse by noting Paul's 

109 Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk, 45. 

""Attempts to harmonize plenarily the OT and NT contexts, aside from some 
peripheral benefits, have not convincingly proved their case. Cf. M. H. Franzmann, 
Concordia Commentary: Romans (St. Louis and London: Concordia, 1968) 34-38. 
Regarding the employment of Hab 2:4 in the NT, see Bryant, "The Meaning of 
Habakkuk 2:4," 36-42. For general principles pertaining to NT quotations from the 
LXX (including divergencies), see: E. J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1957) 149-50. 

1H Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament, 93. Carefully compare his related 
argument: ibid., 117-21. 


citations in their context first; then, standing upon this presupposi- 
tional base, they work back to the original passage in order to 
interpret it. There is a need for an ultimate perspective which is 
systematic in scope; however, the aforementioned procedure must not 
be the means to that end. 

Prior to a cursory examination of the NT passages, the major 
problem concerning the usage of tuo"ti<; needs to be remembered: "It 
is to be observed that the Greek word tugtic; is ambiguous. It means 
both 'faithfulness,' and 'belief or 'trust.'" 112 

In Paul 

In spite of the fact that Paul's usages contextually suggest a 
different thrust of argument (or at least a different emphasis) from 
the original context, some would still insist that he is employing 
nioxic, in a manner similar to the original ri3TQX. These arguments 
follow various paths, but one of the most common suggestions is that 
all the contexts are emphasizing the faithfulness of God. 113 

Romans 1:17. Most of the phenomena of the Greek rendering 
(e.g. Rom 1:17b) have been previously discussed in conjunction with 
the Septuagint's renderings of the Hebrew text of Hab 2:4b (cf. 
above), 114 but a consideration of related factors in the immediate 
context of Rom 1:17b is necessary. 115 

It was noted that the 5iKaioauvr| 0eoi3 in Rom 1:17a has been 
construed in various ways. 116 The major problem here is ". . . whether 
SiKaioouvn. refers to an activity of God or to a status of man 

112 Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, 69. Cf. W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, A 
Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915) 31-34. See also the previous discussion on HJTftK. Cf.: 
"When HJIftX as nioxiq is given a more general sense in R. 1:17; Gl. 3:1 1 ... this is not 
wrong but it is certainly a development of the original meaning" (Quell and Schrenk, 
TDNT 2. 177, n. 12). 

113 E.g., T. F. Torrance, "One Aspect of the Biblical Conception of Faith," ExpTim 
68 ( 1957) 1 1 1-14. Cf. R. N. Longenecker, Paul: Apostle of Liberty (New York, Evanston, 
and London: Harper & Row, 1964) 149ff. 

""On ek juotecoc,, cf. H. A. Kent, Jr., The Freedom of God's Sons: Studies in 
Galatians (Winona Lake: BMH, 1976) 88; on the importance of the object of faith, see: 
Lenski, Romans. 83; on the uou of the LXX, review: Johnson, "The Gospel That Paul 
Preached," 339-40, n. 31; on the construing of ek niazzaq with ^aeTCu , review: 
Lenski, Romans, 87; Wallis, "The Translation of Romans 1:17 — A Basic Motif in 
Paulinism," 17-22; J. Denney, "St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans," in The Expositor's 
Greek Testament (reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 2. 591; cf. Eadie, 
Galatians, 245-46; and for a summary, see: Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, 

" 5 Cf. Johnson, "The Gospel That Paul Preached," 329ff. 

" 6 Cf. n. 5. OnSiicaioc;, also review: Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 30-31; and n. 
17, above. 


resulting from God's action, righteousness as a gift from God." 117 To 
this must be added the related matter of the nature of the genitive 
Geou. 118 Without denying the essential truths pertaining to the former 
position, Paul's total argument would seem to confirm the intent of 
the latter — the word refers to man's status. 

Another point of contention in this debate is the compound 
prepositional phrase ek nicxeaic, sic, 7riaTiv. Harris' survey merely 
scratches the surface: 

A myriad of proposals have been made in regard to the meaning of the 
phrase ek pisteos eis pistin, such as: from the faith of the preacher to 
the faith of the hearer; from God's faithfulness to man's faith; from 
smaller to greater degree of faith (cf. apo doxes eis doxan, 2 Cor. 3:18); 
from faith as a starting-point to faith as a permanent condition. But 
it seems more natural to construe ek as indicating not the source or 
starting-point ("from faith") but the basis or means ("by faith;" as in 
Hab. 2:4), with the eis pistin either intensifying the effect of ek pisteos 
(thus, "by faith from first to last," New International Version), or 
denoting the goal of God's impartation to men of a righteous status 
("leading to faith"). On either of these latter views, faith is portrayed 
as the vital and perpetual characteristic of Christian experience. 119 

Harris' last suggestion, in the light of a broad theological scope, is 
worthy of particular consideration; it might be roughly construed as 
follows: the first niaxiq emphasizes an active nuance, and the second 
niaxiq, being goal oriented (i.e., eig), emphasizes a passive nuance. 
The second view (i.e., "from God's faithfulness to man's faith") has 
been employed in an attempt to bolster the contention that God's 
fidelity is the major argument that permeates both the contexts of 
Rom 1:17b and of Hab 2:4b. Murray recognizes the important 
contribution of such arguments, but he exposes their essential flaw: 

It is fully admitted that wherever there is faith there is always the 
faithfulness of God and of Christ to which that faith is directed and 
from which it takes its origin. In other words, faith always involves this 
polarized situation. ... It is one thing to say that our faith always 
involves a polarized situation; it is another thing altogether to say that 
faith is a polarized expression. 120 

117 Cranfield, Romans, 1. 96. 

U8 Cf. ibid., 96-98; Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, 250; Johnson, "The 
Gospel That Paul Preached," 333-35. 

119 M. J. Harris, "Appendix: Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testa- 
ment," NIDNTT3. 1189. Cf.: "Appendix B: From Faith to Faith": J. Murray, The 
Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 1. 363-74; Johnson, "The 
Gospel That Paul Preached," 336-37; Cranfield, Romans, 1. 99-100. 

120 Murray, Romans, 1. 373. 


In the light of all the data undergirding these synopses, Meyer's 
general conclusion concerning Rom 1:17 is accepted: "Finally, ... to 
understand nicxic, sic, kigtiv in the sense of faith in the faithfulness of 
God . . . , is to introduce what is neither in the words nor yet sug- 
gested by the context." 121 

Galatians 3:11. A similar tension arises when the context of Gal 
3:11b is compared with that of Hab 2:4b. 122 Ramsay's contextual 
survey pays particular attention not only to the utilization of Hab 
2:4b in Gal 3:11 but also to Gen 15:6 in Gal 3:6: 

The phrase ek Triaxeox; is used only once in the Septuagint, 
Habakkuk II 4 — "The just shall live by his faith." Paul took this 
saying, connected it with Genesis XV 6 — "Abraham believed in the 
Lord, and he counted to him for righteousness" — and found in the 
two the proof of his doctrine of the righteousness that is of faith — 

8lK0UOaUVT| tt|v EK 7UaTEG)<;. 123 

This interpretation of the data is certainly more credible than that 
proposed by Longenecker: "The context of Gal. 3:11 indicates that 
Paul interpreted Hab. 2:4 [italics added] as human trust and reliance, 
not as human faithfulness or even the divine faithfulness of the LXX 
rendering ek pisteos mou." 124 A more careful approach would be 
"that Paul has used the Habakkuk passage analogically. The principle 
of justification by faith in the promises of God and not in human 
endeavor, initially set forth so clearly in the story of Abraham, is found 
also in Habakkuk" [italics added]. 125 Burton's careful summary of the 
tension demonstrates a greater degree of hermeneutical insight, as 
seen in the following excerpts: 

The particular sense which the words bore for Paul and which he 
intended them to convey to his readers is undoubtedly to be deter- 
mined rather by Pauline usage in general, and by the part which the 
sentence plays in the apostle's argument, than by the meaning which 
the original Heb. had for the prophet. By these considerations . . . 
niaxeax; bears its usual active sense, required by the context, "faith." 
. . . The use of the passage with the active sense of Tiiaxic, involves no 

121 H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Epistle to the Romans 
(New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889) 52-53. 

l22 Cf. R. A. Cole, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (TNTC; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1965) 96-98; Lightfoot, Galatians, 138-39; and P. R. Jones, "Exegesis of 
Galatians 3 and 4," RevExp 69 (1972) 477-78; Hendriksen, Galatians, 128. 

123 W. M. Ramsay, A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 
(reprinted; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965) 344. 

124 Longenecker, Paul: Apostle of Liberty, 123, n. 62. 

125 Johnson, "The Gospel That Paul Preached," 338-39. 


radical perversion of its meaning, since faith in this sense might easily 
be conceived to be an ingredient or basis of faithfulness. 126 

In Hebrews 121 

A contextual affinity between Heb 10:38 and our passage is 
demonstrable. Dods' extremely brief summary brings out the most 
significant data concerning Heb 10:37-38: 

In Habakkuk the conditions are similar. God's people are crushed 
under overwhelming odds. And the question with which Habakkuk 
opens his prophecy is ecdc; xivo<; Ketcpricjouai Kai 6u \if\ siaaKouaeic; 
The Lord assures him that deliverance will come and will not delay. By 
inserting the article, the writer of Hebrews identifies the deliverer as the 
Messiah, "the coming One." Cf. Mat. xi.3; Luke vii.19; Jo. vi.14. 6 8e 
Sikcuoc;. . . . "And the just shall live by faith," i.e. shall survive these 
troublous times by believing that the Lord is at hand! 128 

The 56 introducing Heb 10:38 functions disjunctively: 

The position of the last two clauses of the citation is reversed to avoid 
connecting u7ioo"C£iAr|Tai with 6 ep/ouevoq. ... If the author of Heb- 
rews had retained the original sequence, this clause would have referred 
to Christ himself, since the author had already made "the coming one" 
definitely refer to Christ. In the new position this clause is connected 
with 8ucaio<; pou, which is now the subject of the last part of the 
quotation. The inversion places 8e at the beginning of the verse, which 
now indicates the change of subject, the new subject now being the 
Christian (cf. x.39). 129 

Robertson notes that Heb 10:38b (cf. Hab 2:4a, LXX) is a "condition 
of third class with ean and the first aorist middle subjunctive of 

l26 E. D. Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Galatians (ICC; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920) 166-67. 

127 On OT quotes in Hebrews, see: G. Howard, "Hebrews and the Old Testament 
Quotations," NovT 10 (1968) 208ff. Howard challenges Westcott's universal recogni- 
tion of the LXX in Hebrews; however, when he comes to Heb 10:37-38, he labels it 
"LXX Influence" (ibid., 210). 

128 M. Dods, "The Epistle to the Hebrews," in The Expositor's Greek Testament 
(reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 4. 351. Concerning the transposition of 
lines in Heb 10:38 from Hab 2:4 (LXX), see: ibid.; Westcott, Hebrews, 337. Cf. 
Delitzsch, Hebrews, 2. 199, 201; T. W. Lewis, "'. . . And If He Shrinks Back' (Heb. X. 
38b)," ATS 22 (1976) 90 (cf. n. 3); "Additional Note on X. 37f. On the quotation from 
Hab. ii. 3f.": Westcott, Hebrews, 347-48. On the alleged reference to Isa 26:20 in v 37, 
see: H. A. Kent, Jr., The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972) 213, 
contra R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle 
of James (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1966) 369. On the eschatological impact of v 37, see: 
K. J. Thomas, "The Old Testament Citations in Hebrews," NTS 11 (1965) 316. 

129 Thomas, "The Old Testament Citations in Hebrews," 316. 


hupostello, old verb to draw oneself under or back, to withdraw, as 
already in Acts 20:20, 27; Gal. 2:12." 130 Consequently, and also in the 
light of the larger context of Hebrews 1 1 , Hoyt interprets the major 
thrust of the message of Heb 10:38-39 (cf. Hab 2:4) as follows: 

Those who are truly Christian will continue in persistence to the 
very end (38, 39). The just shall live by faith daily. Those who draw 
back have never come within divine pleasure. 131 


Biblical theology 

Reflecting on the important precedent set by usage, it must be 
stated that the "Heb. °emunah, translated 'faith' in Habakkuk ii.4 
(LXX pistis) means 'steadfastness' or 'fidelity.'" 132 Therefore, the 
emphasis in Habakkuk is on sanctification. 133 

It should be observed, however, that an "emphasis" does not 
abrogate secondary factors reflected in the immediate and larger 
contexts. The two spheres of development pertaining to the verbals 
from the ]BN-complex must at least be recognized in reference to the 
H3TDX of Hab 2:4b. More importantly, the background and judicial 
implications of p ,r TX must be noted. This is corroborated by the 
association of the roots |?DN and plX in this single short line. 

These factors enlarge the scope of study, because they imply a 
background which ultimately finds its antecedent in Abraham. Con- 
textual associations with the foundational truth of Gen 15:6 are not 
only likely in Hab 2:4 but also in the larger contexts of the Pauline 
citations (cf. Rom 4:3, 9, 22; Gal 3:6). Abraham was justified by faith 
(compare Gen 15:6 with Romans 4), but biblical faith manifests itself 
in fidelity. Within this sphere, it is legitimate to render Hab 2:4b as 
follows: "'Through his fidelity of faith he shall live!'" 134 Ethical 
implications are preserved but not at the expense of an intricate 
biblical balance. This is important, because "faith and faithfulness . . . 
cannot be separated. . . . Both are present in his [i.e., Habakkuk's] 
book, even though his emphasis is on faithfulness." 135 

130 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman, 
1930), 5. 417. 

m H. Hoyt, Christ — God's Final Word to Man: An Exposition of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews (Winona Lake: BMH, n.d.) 52. 

132 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (TNTC; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1963) 80. 

'"Wallis, "The Translation of Romans 1:17 — A Basic Motif in Paulinism," 21. 

134 Von Orelli, The Old Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of God's 
Kingdom, 324. 

135 Gowan, The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk, 43, 44. Cf. Gowan's whole discus- 
sion, 43ff. 


Systematic theology 

Paul's use of Hab 2:4b in Rom 1:17 and Gal 3:11 appears to be 
at first glance a radical departure from the thrust of the context of the 
OT passage. "But that does not mean that Paul was wrong in taking 
Hab 2:4 as the great theme verse for his teaching about justification 
by faith." 136 It must be remembered that: 

Paul does not teach justification by faith in a vacuum. Faith does 
make one righteous both forensically and, increasingly, in actuality, 
because faith issues in the ev Xpiatw relationship. 137 

Once again, a full circle has been drawn. From this perspective, it is 
best to conclude with Westcott that "'faith' (in the Pauline sense) and 
'faithfulness to God' (which is what the Prophet had in mind), in the 
long run, are the same thing." 138 

6 Ibid., 43. 

'Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament, 119. 

8 F. B. Westcott, St. Paul and Justification (London: Macmillan, 1913) 52. 




James M. Grier, Jr. 


Philosophy traditionally has handled the analysis of the origin of 
knowledge by making authority one of the four possible sources 
of knowledge. Two sources of knowledge have been viewed as 
secondary sources: authority and intuition-mysticism. Two sources of 
knowledge have been viewed as primary: empiricism-experience and 
rationalism-thinking. The epistemological value of authority has been 
to corroborate the primary sources of knowledge. 

This de facto analysis of knowledge has lulled our critical 
faculties to sleep by causing us to accept the idea that there are three 
sources of knowledge that are independent of any dogmatic- 
authoritative assumptions. Knowledge has to be gained by the use of 
man's sensory, rational, or intuitive powers with their correlative tests 
for truth of correspondence, coherence, and self-evidence. All authori- 
ties must be scrutinized by these cognitive capacities of man while the 
empirical-rational-intuitive sources are seen as non-authoritative. The 
problem of knowledge has been given an answer by the defintion of 

Reflection reveals that the empirical, rational, and mystical 
sources of knowledge are based on non-demonstrable assumptions 
and are as dogmatic and authoritarian as authority. This is simply to 
assert that every epistemological system begins with non-demonstrable 
assumptions. These assumptions constitute a very real commitment to 
authority, although it is obscured by the use of language and by 

Man has faced the question of cognitive authority from Eden 
until the present. Adam sought epistemological independence from 
God in order to decide for himself whose word was true and thus 
authoritative. Satan, speaking through the serpent, asserted that the 
eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would not 
result in death but rather would yield an increment of knowledge and 


an expanded vista of perception. God, on the other hand, asserted 
that eating would bring certain death. Adam faced the problem of 
conflicting truth claims. To determine which claim was the true and 
dependable guide for conduct, Adam established a third authority. 
He weighed the converging and diverging evidence for each hypoth- 
esis and thus became the final authority and standard for truth. 
How should Adam have responded to this epistemological- 
ethical test? Is it possible to identify the words of God by a standard 
external to those words? The purpose of this article is to explore the 
apologetical value of the self-referential words of God. 


The issue 

The world is full of competing religions, all of which claim 
authority for their position. How does one go about testing claims to 
religious authority for truth value? This issue divides the community 
of the redeemed. The revelational rational-empiricist insists that all 
claims to religious authority must be tested the same way that all 
truth claims are tested, i.e., by the inductive scientific method. The 
Bible must be subjected to factual tests and will be shown to be true 
beyond reasonable doubt when checked by history, etc. Pinnock 
asserts: "Probability is the guide to life; it is the guide to religious 
truth, too." 1 

The second approach is an autopistic stance (i.e., worthy of faith 
in itself) which asserts that the self-testimony of Scripture is sufficient 
to establish its authority. Autopistic apologetics presupposes that the 
Bible is true and then argues from the Bible to show that it is 
authoritative. The seeds of authenticity are internal to the objective 
content of biblical revelation because it is God-breathed. The doc- 
trine of Scripture must come from Scripture just as the doctrines of 
God, creation, providence, fall, redemption, and second coming must 
come from Scripture. 

The self-witness 

There would never be any basis for discussion about the authority 
of Scripture if the Bible did not claim authority for itself. The witness 
of the Bible to its own authority is both pervasive and readily 
accessible. There is no value in repeating the multiform pervasive 

C. H. Pinnock, Biblical Revelation — The Foundation of Christian Theology 
(Chicago: Moody, 1971) 46. Axiopists who have taken this view include C. S. Lewis, 
Frank Morrison, Wilbur Smith, James Orr, John Gerstner, Kenneth Kantzer, Daniel 
Fuller, John Warwick Montgomery, and Benjamin Warfield. 


content of the Bible's witness to its own ultimate authority. 2 Scrip- 
ture speaks clearly of its own origin, character, and authority. Is it 
possible to judge that Scripture is the ultimate criterion by the 
application of another criterion to establish it? I think not. 

Being and knowing. God is the self-contained, triune, onto- 
logical God who has created heaven and earth. He created because he 
willed to and his all-comprehensive plan stands behind all of reality. 
As the creator, he is self-sufficient and is not ontologically correlative 
to his creation. By his eternal purpose he has willed whatsoever 
comes to pass (Acts 2:23; Eph 1:3-14). This God has revealed himself 
in his creation and providential care and specially through his Son 
and his Word, i.e., Scripture. Christ is the revelator of God, and 
apart from his self-revelation God would not be known. Given the 
ultimacy of God's being and his self-revelation, man is surrounded 
externally and internally with the revelation of the true God. God is 
only known through his own self-disclosure, and in light of this it 
would follow that God's revelation is self-attesting. What could there 
be that would be an adequate witness to attest God's revelation when 
he is the self-existing creator? What exists in reality that is not 
created by God and is not revelatory of him? 

The very nature of the being of God necessitates that his self- 
revelation would have the evidence of its authority within itself. "The 
God who speaks in scripture cannot refer to anything that is not 
already authoritatively revelational of himself." 3 The quality of the 
being of God who exhaustively knows himself and his plan can be the 
only point of predication for human knowledge based on his self- 
revelation. The self-witness of Scripture is not just the foundation of 
authority for religious knowledge but for all knowledge. 

Self-witness is necessary because of the uniqueness of the being 
of God. Murray well summarizes this idea when he writes: 

It might seem analogous to the case of a judge who accepts the witness 
of the accused in his own defense, rather than evidence derived from all 
the relevant facts in the case. ... It is fully admitted that normally it 
would be absurd and a miscarriage of justice for a judge to accept the 
testimony of the accused, rather than the verdict required by all the 
relevant evidence. But the two cases are not analogous. There is one 
sphere where self-testimony must be accepted as absolute and final. 

J. Murray, "The Attestation of Scripture," The Infallible Word, ed. N. Stone- 
house (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1946) 17-40. Autopistic apologetes 
include John Calvin, Herman Bavinck, E. J. Young, Gordon Clark, Abraham Kuyper, 
John C. Whitcomb, Greg Bahnsen, and Robert Reymond. 

C. Van Til, The Protestant Doctrine of Scripture (n.p.: den Dulk Christian 
Foundation, 1967) 9. 


This is the sphere of our relation to God. God alone is adequate 
witness to himself. 4 

The value of self-witness. The revelational axiom of the Chris- 
tian faith in the witness of Scripture to itself brings a number of 
implications for apologetics. A true defense of Christianity demands 
the open communication of self-authenticating Scripture to man. 
Man must be challenged to study Scripture so that he will be 
confronted with its witness about God, creation, sin, man, Christ, and 
redemption. It would be fruitless to defend a self-authenticating 
Scripture by abstract non-scriptural argument. The value of that self- 
witness must be put to use in the careful enunciation of its content. 5 
He must be challenged to total repentance and not the addition of a 
religious experience to his present mental set. Knowing that the Bible 
is true and authoritative is nothing but hearing and obeying the voice 
of God. 

The communication of the redemptive revelation that is neces- 
sary, authoritative, clear, and sufficient would necessitate that we 
never allow a man to get into the position where he can judge what 
God has said or has not said. To allow the individual an extra- 
biblical standard to judge the credibility of Scripture implies that the 
sinner already knows what God can or cannot reveal. 6 This would be 
in clear contradiction to the biblical assertion of the necessity of 
revelation for man to know anything. Every fact in the universe is in 
dispute. To capitulate to the unregenerate demand for autonomy and 
submit the biblical revelation and its evidence to his viewpoint is to 
deny what Scripture says about him as a sinner whose mind is at 
enmity against God. 

The internal evidence ought to be presented unashamedly from 
the starting point of the Bible as God's authoritative word. It ought 
to be presented with the force of an absolute demand and the prayer 
that God the Holy Spirit will open the blind eyes of the hearer so that 
he will see the overwhelming evidence and bow in repentance and 
faith. In his natural state the unregenerate man suppresses every 
aspect of God's natural and special revelation. The evidence in him, 
around him, and in Scripture is sufficient and final. There is no 
weakness in the evidence. The problem is that man cannot see. He 
doesn't need more evidence; he needs new birth. The living, abiding 
Word of God as self-attestingly sure, blessed by the regenerating 
activity of the Holy Spirit, is his only hope. 

Murray, "The Attestation of Scripture," 9, 10. 

J. Frame, "Scripture Speaks for Itself," God's Inerrant Word, ed. J. W. Mont- 
gomery (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1974) 179. 

R. Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and 
Reformed, 1976) 16. 



Revelational rational-empiricists have asserted that to accept the 
Bible as true based on its own witness is to reason in a circle and thus 
remove Christianity from the arena of intellectual credibility. Pinnock 
boldly asserts that the position of self-witness is nothing but fideism 
and puts it in the camp of neo-orthodoxy and mysticism. The 
immediate point to be noted is that the argument has dealt with the 
objective content of revelation and not with subjective religious 
experience. The appeal to Scripture to validate the authority of 
Scripture is an appeal to an objective content that is God-breathed. Is 
it question-begging? 

Presuppositions are universal 

Every system has a self-referential starting point that cannot be 
validated by an authority. It must simply be accepted as self- 
referential. This starting point will have metaphysical implications as 
well as ethical implications. In the case of pure empiricism, the 
assumption is that what can be known by man must originate in 
sensory experience. All the generals of knowledge are inductive 
inferences from the plurality of sense experience. This epistemo- 
logical authority implies that what is real is extended in time and 
space, and thus morals and values have no objective referent. 

The point is obvious! All epistemological authorities start with 
linguistic assertions that are self-referential. From these starting 
points a circular world-life view is developed. Since Babel and its 
pluriform communication, multiple views vie for men's allegiance. 
Man in his rebellion against God does not agree on one system, but 
has multiple alternatives. All of his systems share one thing in 
common — that the claims of God in the Bible cannot be true. 
Agreement extends to the ultimacy of man and his capacities as the 
only tolerable starting point for knowledge. Ultimate authorites 
cannot be validated by appeals to other authorities, for then ultimacy 
is obviously lost. Sinful man, with his autonomous ultimacy, reasons 
in a vicious circle, the result of which is his own intellectual and 
moral suicide. 

A non-vicious circle 

"In the beginning, God ..." (Gen 1:1). "God created man" (Gen 
1:27). The ultimacy of the being of God necessitates that man's being 

Pinnock, Biblical Revelation, 42-44. For a careful refutation of Pinnock's charges, 
see G. L. Bahnsen, "Inductivism, Inerrancy, and Presuppositionalism," JETS 20 
(1977) 289-305. 


is derived and dependent on God. No matter what he says or does, 
man is God's creature and is accessible to God. God has, by wise 
council and deliberation, foreordained all things that come to pass. 
He has revealed himself and his plan in a once-for-all, prophetic- 
apostolic revelation that he breathed out. God has exhaustive knowl- 
edge of himself and his plan, and thus his revelation is the basis for 
knowing in his created world. Man is God's creature and is depen- 
dent on God for knowledge through his self-revelation. The evidence 
for the truth of God's revelation is internal to the revelation and is 
adapted to man in language form. The right response of the creature 
is to believe and obey this revelation with thanksgiving. Sin has 
blinded the eyes of the creature. The gentle grace of the Holy Spirit 
opens his eyes to the light of God's revelation and he steps into the 
circle of truth. Knowledge can now be justified on the basis of the 
self-revealing God. Regenerate man can now explicate all the internal 
evidence of Scripture as his authority and confront the unbeliever 
with the Word of the living God. 

— Sola Scriptura — 




Ronald E. Manahan 

A large corpus of material on false prophets is contained in the 
book of Jeremiah. This material furnishes opportunity for under- 
standing the theological perspective from which these pseudoprophets 
spoke and acted. The question is: What theological conceptions did 
they hold? A survey of recent prophetic and pseudoprophetic research 
indicates that analysis of historical contexts and audience response 
helps to answer the question. The present proposal is that a tentative 
reconstruction of pseudoprophet theology can be developed if atten- 
tion is given to: (1) audience response, (2) origin of pseudoprophets' 
revelations, (3) characterization of pseudoprophets, and (4) pseudo- 
prophet quotations. Accordingly this analysis indicates that pseudo- 
prophets held to a "Para-Covenantal" theology built on hopes attached 
to the temple and the dynasty. Jerusalem's existence was without 
condition and Mosaic Covenant infractions were of no consequence. 
They spoke only in part of Yahweh's covenant with his people. Thus, 
due warning is given those who speak or hear only a part of God's 
revelation to man, an error too prevalent in contemporary speaking 
and hearing of God's Word. 

* * * 

While the term pseudoprophet has its origin in the LXX, so 
numerous are the mentions of these prophets who oppose 
Yahweh's work and will that the term v|/eu5o7ipo(prjrr|c; serves as a 
meaningful title for such persons. 1 From a survey of the OT record 
there is clear indication that false prophets persisted throughout 
Israel's history. This fact, along with the diametrical opposition to 
false prophets by canonical prophets, the complex problem of dis- 
tinguishing between true and false prophets, and the belief that 

Concerning the LXX translators' usage of yeu8o7tpo(pr|Tr|c; on ten occasions, J. L. 
Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict (BZAW 124; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971) 1, says: "In ten 
places the attack by one prophet upon another was so severe that the Septuagint 
translators used the word pseudoprophetes to translate nabi." 


understanding the theological conceptions of false prophets enhances 
understanding of canonical prophets, raises the question: What theo- 
logical conceptions did pseudoprophets hold? 

Though the length of this paper prohibits a complete treatment 
of all OT references to false prophets, the book of Jeremiah furnishes 
the necessary data to begin answering the above question. Several 
reasons may be cited for this selection. This book contains a volume 
of material on false prophets, enough data to make a judicious, if 
cautious, analysis. Further, an especially sharp contrast between true 
and false prophets is presented, cursorily indicated by the fact that of 
the ten times the LXX translators used \\i£\)&onpoyr\Tr\c„ nine are in 
Jeremiah. Still another reason for selecting this book is that the 
rapidly changing international political climate of Jeremiah's time 
seemed to demand religious explanations for Judah's precarious 
situation; one would expect to find such explanations, and one is not 
disappointed. Both true and false prophets offered explanations, and 
these provide further material for answering the questions regarding 
the theological conceptions of false prophets. 

If the book of Jeremiah is to be utilized as suggested above, the 
text of the book must be taken seriously. Gerstenberger's pessimistic 
judgment that the "facts and figures" are not necessarily identifiable 
with "historical events" must be abandoned. Admittedly, a number 
of textual questions arise in this book, but they certainly do not 
warrant the judgment of Gerstenberger. 

As already indicated, the international climate of Jeremiah's day 
was stormy. While a detailed history of Jeremiah's day would serve 
no particular function here, Klein's summary seems to be consistent 
with the international political picture: 

Jeremiah lived at a time when the principal roles in the monotonous 
drama of Middle Eastern politics were changing hands in quite unex- 
pected ways. Old powers were too exhausted to bear the weight of 

'The ten references (MT) where the LXX uses i|/eu5o7ipo<pf|Tr|C, are Jer 6:13; 26:7, 
8, 11, 16; 27:9; 28:1; 29:1, 8 and Zech 13:2. 

So E. Gerstenberger, "Jeremiah's Complaints: Observations on Jer. 15:10-21," 
JBL 82 (1963) 393, gloomily observes: "Jeremiah is looked upon as a religious genius, 
the champion of personal, inner, and spiritual religion. The basic fallacy of this 
viewpoint is the presupposition that the 'facts and figures' in Jer. are identical with 
'historical events,' or, that they, at least, permit easy access to that which 'really 
happened' during Jeremiah's lifetime." 

For a discussion of textual matters relating to Jeremiah see the following: C. von 
Orelli, The Prophecies of Jeremiah, trans. J. S. Banks (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 
1889); J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB 21; Garden City: Doubleday, 1965); E. C. Rust, 
Covenant and Hope (Waco: Word, 1972); J. G. Janzen, Studies in the Text of 
Jeremiah (HSM 6; Cambridge: Harvard University, 1973). As an example of a recent 
treatment of this subject see E. Tor, "Exegetical Notes on the Hebrew Vorlage of the 
LXX of Jeremiah 27 (34)," ZAW 91 (1979) 73-93. 


events, and new powers were eagerly responding to the invitation of 
chance. The effect of these conditions was sharply felt in Syria and 

For Judah all this meant essentially was that while Assyrian suprem- 
acy was gone (612 B.C.), it had been replaced by the menacing threat 
of Babylonian-Egyptian tensions. 

A better perspective of pseudoprophet theology will be gained 
through an understanding of recent false prophet interpretation. This 
brief survey will be the concern of the first section. Thereupon will 
follow an appraisal of the pertinent data from Jeremiah. In the final 
section, the conclusions of this study will be presented. 


General observations 

Several observations help to illumine recent commentary on 
pseudoprophets. Prophetic research in general has moved about three 
centers of concern: the man, the message, and audience response 
reflecting popular religion. 6 While all three of these areas are related, 
the chronology of their popularity as centers of research is in the 
order given above. 

Holscher emphasized that all prophecy was ecstatic, and Lind- 
blom posited the notion that ecstacy was the central factor in 
understanding prophecy. 7 Emphasis of this sort necessitated that 
the prophet as man be the focus of research in order to articulate 
prophetic phenomena. Mowinckel concluded that, whereas earlier 
prophets had emphasized their prophetic movement as being prompted 
by the Spirit of Yahweh, later prophets stressed the importance of 
receiving the Word of Yahweh. By this assessment Mowinckel 
suggested that in the later prophets the true could be distinguished 

5 W. C. Klein, "Commentary on Jeremiah," ATR 45 (1963) 122. 

Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict, 5ff. Note also the discussion of Rust, Covenant 
and Hope, 104. 

Note ibid., 7; C. Westermann, Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech (Philadelphia: 
Westminster, 1967) 21-23; J. Lindblom, Prophecy in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: 
Fortress, 1965). In connection with focusing attention on the ecstatic experience of 
prophecy, E. J. Young, My Servants, the Prophets (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952) 
164-65, concludes: "That the prophets were ecstatics was not first suggested by 
Holscher. Before him, men like Giesebrecht, Knobel, and Stade had advanced the same 
idea. The view, however, is really much older. We shall probably find the first 
presentation of it in the writings of Philo. In his discussion of Genesis 15 Philo 
identifies sleep which fell upon Abraham as an ecstacy. This ecstacy, he says, may take 
different forms. It may be a madness which produces mental delusion (paranoian). It 
may be extreme amazement at sudden and unexpected events. On the other hand it 
may be mere passivity of the mind, but in its best form it is a divine possession or 
frenzy . . . such as came upon the prophetic class." 


from the false because the former, recipients of Yahweh's Word, were 
rational guides leading the nation to right actions (those consistent 
with Yahweh's nature and demands). The false were possessed of the 
frenzied (i.e., irrational) Spirit of Yahweh and therefore were inade- 
quate for presenting Yahweh's demands rationally. 

A number of scholars concentrated their efforts on the message. 
The awareness of prophetic speech forms became the chief product of 
this investigation. The lineage of this development of speech form 
research can be traced through W. W. Baudissin, C. Steuernagel, 
G. Holscher, H. Gunkel, H. Gressmann, J. Lindblom, L. Koehler, 
E. Balla, R. B. Y. Scott, H. Wildberger, J. Hempel, H. W. Wolff, and 
E. Wiirthwein. 9 In recent years, this area of research has proven 
fertile. Men such as D. R. Hillers 10 and K. Baltzer 11 have concentrated 
their efforts on the treaty orientation of prophetic literature. So 
prevalent has been this concerted attention to the covenantal nature 
of the literature that R. E. Clements has sounded a warning against 
overemphasis: because the traditions lack unity, the covenant theme 
cannot be traced throughout the prophets. 12 On the other hand, 
N. Habel has concentrated on the form of the call narratives. 13 In all, 
considerable attention has been given to the prophetic message. 

A relatively new concept in the arena of prophetic research has 
been the idea that audience response was conditioned by the tenets of 
popular religion. Crenshaw believes that research in this area will 
yield a great deal of new information for better understanding of the 
prophets, and indicates approval of A. S. van der Woude's call to 
attention to the important nature of prophetic quotations and quota- 
tions of false prophets. 15 These quotations provide an avenue of 

See S. Mowinckel, "The Spirit' and the 'Word' in the Pre-Exilic Reforming 
Prophets," JBL 53 (1934) 199-227. 

At least this is the reasoned judgment of Westermann, Basic Forms of Prophetic 
Speech, 13-89. 

D. R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets (BibOr 16; Rome: 
Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964) 1-89. See also F. C. Fensham, "Common Trends in 
Curses of the Near Eastern Treaties and At^Mrru-Inscriptions Compared With the 
Maledictions of Amos and Isaiah," ZA W 75 (1963) 155-75. 

''K. Baltzer, The Covenant Formulary (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971) 1-180. 

R. E. Clements, Prophecy and Tradition (Atlanta: John Knox, 1975). 
13 N. Habel, "The Form and Significance of the Call Narratives," ZAW11 (1965) 

Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict, 13. Note, however, the opinion of A. Johnson, 
The Cultic Prophet in Ancient Israel (Cardiff: University of Wales, 1962) 50-51. 
See A. S. van der Woude, "Micah In Dispute With the Pseudoprophets," VT 19 
(1969) 245, where he reasons: "Is it at all possible to give a somewhat exact description 
of the theologoumena through which pseudo-prophetism exercised its influence on the 
religious life in Jerusalem and Judah at the close of the eighth century B.C.? Needless to 
say, if we could trace these theologoumena, we would be in a position to fathom the 


insight into the religious views held by the general populace. Cren- 
shaw's research led him to conclude that 

It is only as one becomes familiar with the voice of the people that he 
can understand false prophecy. . . . The following will seek to show 
that the vox populi is characterized by: (1) confidence in God's 
faithfulness, (2) satisfaction with traditional religion, (3) defiance in the 
face of prophets who hold a different view, (4) despair when hope 
seems dead, (5) doubt as to the justice of God, and (6) historical 



Specific tendencies 

These three areas of concern (man, message, and audience 
response) in prophetic research have produced corollary responses in 
treatment of the pseudoprophets. These have come in the form of 
three specific tendencies: (1) a denial of valid objective criteria for 
distinguishing false from true prophets, (2) an attempt to understand 
false prophets on the basis of the historical moment of the prophetic 
word, and (3) a belief that distinguishing false from true prophets 
requires an analysis of the nature of audience response conditioned 
by the leading tenets of popular religion. 

The first of these tendencies is seen in the work of J. Hempel 
who "denied the validity of the criterion of fulfillment in distinguish- 
ing true from false prophecy." 18 Non-fulfillment of prophetic utter- 
ance was not necessarily an indication of false prophecy; it was only a 
new occasion for the prophet to apply the traditional message in a 
new way. The issue is not so much, then, the nature of prophetic 
utterance as it is the prophet's ability to adapt. In this way Hempel 
concentrated on the man, not so much the message. Von Rad agrees 
in principle with Hempel's position, for in discussing Jeremiah's 
encounters with pseudoprophets he concludes: 

Deuteronomy too tries — not very successfully — to draw up objective 
criteria by means of which the false prophet might be recognized 
(Deut. XVIII.21). The contradiction between prophet and prophet, 

spiritual climate against which the pre-Exilic canonical prophets made their stand. In 
general it can be said that the pseudoprophets subscribed and conformed to the 
established order not only politically but also in matters of religion." 

16 Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict, 24. 

17 Ibid., 13. 

18 Ibid., 14. 
Cf. ibid., 15, where Hempel's position is analyzed accordingly. "It was this 
'aliveness' of the spoken word and readiness of the prophet to adapt a previous word to 
a new situation that prompted him to deny that the lack of fulfillment of a prediction 
was in itself proof of false prophecy." 


each speaking in the name of Jahweh (cf. Jer. XXVII. 4, XXVIII. 2), 
must have been particularly confusing in the final period of the 
Monarchy. . . . The falsity [i.e., of the prophets] cannot be seen either 
in the office itself, or in their words themselves, or in the fallibility of 
the man who spoke them. It could only be seen by the person who had 
true insight into Jahweh's intentions for the time, and who on the basis 

... 20 

of this, was obliged to deny that the other had illumination. 

Von Rad's judgment also characterizes a second tendency, an 
attempt to understand false prophets on the basis of the historical 
moment of the prophetic word. The prophetic word is either weal or 
woe, depending upon any given cultic adaptation of traditional 
oracular material for a specific historical context (moment of his- 
tory). 21 Thus Overholt contends "that to be true the message of a 
prophet must proclaim Yahweh's will in terms appropriate to the 
concrete historical situation in which the prophet finds himself. ..." 
How were prophets to be evaluated (in light of truth or falsity) if not 
"in the dual light of an affirmation about their religious heritage and 
a knowledge of the historical situation in which they lived?" 23 A 
religious heritage must, therefore, always be interpreted in light of a 
changing historical context. 

Overholt's understanding, while certainly agreeing in many 
respects with von Rad's, also brings to the foreground a third 
tendency in recent treatment of false prophets — a belief that distin- 
guishing false from true necessitates an analysis of the nature of 
audience response conditioned by the leading tenets of popular 
religion. "We find," contends Overholt, "that when two apparently 
equally compelling prophets of Yahweh were in conflict, the key to 
the resolution of the problem lay in an interpretation of the people's 
religious heritage." Crenshaw has attempted this type of interpre- 
tation and suggests that there were six leading tenets which character- 
ized popular religion. 25 Surely if no valid objective criteria exist for 
differentiating false and true prophets, and if a true prophet is such 
because his message matches Yahweh's will to a contemporary con- 
text, then of necessity the historical context in which the message was 
spoken must be understood. The voice of the people as reflected in 

G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology (2 vols.; New York: Harper and Row, 
1965), 2. 210, n. 27 (words in brackets are added). Others who agree in principle with 
Hempel and von Rad are Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict, 110-11, and T. W. Overholt, 
"Jeremiah 27-29: The Question of False Prophecy," JAAR 35 (1967) 241-49. 

This is the judgment of Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict, 15, based on von Rad's 
article, "Die Falschen Propheten," ZA W 53 (1933) 109-20. 

22 Overholt, "Jeremiah 27-29," 248. 


24 Ibid., 241. 

25 See, above, 81. 


prophetic literature should then help explain the given historical 
context and should supply the principle by which a pseudoprophet 
could be detected. 

Summary observations 

The foregoing survey indicates that scholarship has made a 
number of contributions to understanding pseudoprophets, namely, 
recognizing the importance of analyzing the various historical con- 
texts in which both false and true prophets spoke and underscoring 
the notion that audience response will help greatly in understanding 
the false prophet. 

However, this survey also brings to light several deficiencies. 
Much of recent scholarship has labored under a less than adequate 
view of the biblical text. 26 While many aspects of contemporary 
understanding of pseudoprophets have been covered, one issue that 
has received little attention is an analysis of the actual components of 
pseudoprophet theology. 27 This is true especially in the case of the 
book of Jeremiah, a book very interested in pseudoprophets. 

In order to discover the theological tenets of these prophets, an 
adequate method is necessary. The statement and finds of this 
method are the concerns of the following. 


A suggested methodology 

A tentative reconstruction of pseudoprophet theology 28 can be 
developed if the following methodology is employed: analysis of (1) 
the audience response, (2) the origin of the pseudoprophets' supposed 
revelations, (3) the characterization of pseudoprophets in the text, 
and (4) pseudoprophet quotations. 

Before moving directly to the audience response, a word must be 
said about the fact that Jeremiah's book ranges over many years, with 
a number of historical and political changes. Perhaps a variety of 
changes in the theological systems employed by false prophets are to 

26 Cf. the observation on the importance of taking the text of the Bible seriously (p. 
78) with the views of the Bible held by those such as von Rad, Old Testament 
Theology, vol. 2; Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict; and Overholt, "Jeremiah 27-29"; to 
name a few. 

Two who have made notable attempts, though from different perspectives, are 
van der Woude, "Micah In Dispute With the Pseudo-prophets," and J. T. E. Renner, 
"False and True Prophecy," Reformed Theological Review 25 (1966) 96-104. To be 
sure, numerous others have made at least a partial attempt to deal with actual 
theological tenets of pseudoprophetism. 

28 Theology is here understood as that corpus of religious ideas which together 
express a distinctive religious perspective. 


be found. However, as one moves through the history recorded in 
the book, he discovers a remarkable similarity among the pseudo- 
prophets' theological views. Therefore, it is possible to talk in terms 
of this book yielding a picture of the components of a unified 
theology of pseudoprophets. Furthermore, a definition of a true 
prophet is needed. True prophets may be regarded collectively as those 

. . . persons whose entire life-style (words and actions) was submitted 
to God's purposes and empowered by the Spirit and who served 
variously as (1) God's channel of revelatory information to the subjects 
of the mediatorial kingdom, (2) exhorters of obedience to mediatorial 
kingdom regulations, and (3) pointers to the coming Messiah whose 
work would merge the rulership of the mediatorial kingdom and the 
office of God's spokesman in that kingdom into one person. 

Audience response 

The nation of Judah responded in a number of ways to prophetic 
utterance (of whatever type) and to the changing historical situation. 
For present purposes the concern with audience response is at points 
where it may help in illuminating the religious state of the nation and 
thereby cast light on the theological formulations of false prophets. 31 
Audience response may be categorized in two ways: by actions and by 

29 Certainly, however, there were several types of false prophets throughout Israel's 
history; see Young, My Servants the Prophets, 125ff., and J. B. Payne, The Theology 
of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962) 56, who says: "In actuality, 
Israel had, by Ahab's time, become plagued with false prophets. These, in turn, fell into 
three major categories. There were Jezebel's outrightly pagan prophets, who served 
Baal and Asherah (I Kings 18:19); there were the hypocritical charlatans of Ahab's 
court (22:6, 7), prophets for pay, a disgrace to the name of the Lord (Micah 3:11; cf. 
Amos 7:12); and there were sincere prophets, who were well-meaning but still revela- 
tionless, and hence mistaken (I Kings 13:11-18)." 

30 R. Manahan, "Prophetic Office in Historical Perspective" (unpublished Th.M. 
thesis, Grace Theological Seminary, 1977) 135-36. 

31 For a recent discussion of audience response to Jeremiah's utterances see W. J. 
Horwitz, "Audience Reaction to Jeremiah," CBQ 32 (1970) 555-64, where he describes 
his methodology: "In this paper we have tried to discover what can be learned about 
Jeremiah by examining the source most contemporary with him, the responses of his 
audience." An article by D. R. Hillers, "A Convention in Hebrew Literature: The 
Reaction to Bad News," ZA Wll (1965) 86-90, also helps detail audience response by 
drawing attention to Ugaritic parallels to bad-news reactions in the OT prophets, Jer 
6:22-23, 24; 49:23, and 50:43 especially being noteworthy. But T. Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 
and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,'" CBQ 41 (1979) 262-73 cautions that "the 
consistency between the quotations and the prophet's message might well be explained 
by his own conscious construction of his speeches: on the basis of his experience 
Jeremiah may have selected from, altered, even created 'audience reactions' to serve as 
foils for his indictment of the people." 


A survey of the book of Jeremiah indicates several features of 
the actions of the nation. On at least two occasions the book 
illustrates the religiously deviate ways of the nation by picturing them 
as "well-fed lusty horses, each one neighing after his neighbor's wife" 
(Jer 5:8) and "as a well keeps its waters fresh, so she keeps fresh her 
wickedness" (6:7). The actual situation which gave rise to these 
illustrations is that the people refused correction from Yahweh (5:3), 
refused to repent (8:6), closed their ears against Yahweh 's word (both 
king — 36:23; 37:2-3 — and subjects — 7:13, 25-27) filled the temple 
complex with contemptible things (7:30-31), did not speak truth 
(6:28-30; 7:28; 8:6; 9:2-6), and sacrificed to other deities and served 
them (7:18; 12:6; 13:10; 18:15; 19:4; 32:29; 44:16-18). However, these 
characteristics do not necessarily distinguish the people of Jeremiah's 
day from those of a prior era. The nation's spiritual history had been 
marred by numerous spiritual degradations. 

But there are several features of the people's actions that seem to 
characterize Jeremiah's day in particular. While the people had served 
other deities, as noted above, they were nonetheless engaged in 
offering sacrifices to Yahweh (6:20). 32 One of the judgments the 
people seem to have made is that physical sacrifice (to whomever it 
may be made) has a direct relationship to welfare and misfortune. In 
Jer 44:16-18 is recorded an audience response (both by action and 
word) to Jeremiah's statement to the Jews living in Egypt. Yahweh's 
word through Jeremiah was that sacrifice to other gods had brought 
the outpouring of God's wrath (44:2-14). But the claim of the people 
is that sacrifice to other gods brought prosperity and lack of sacrifice 
to these same deities brought misfortune (44:16-18). Therefore, they 
concluded, a continuation of pagan sacrifice was required. On an 
earlier occasion (11:15) Yahweh had indicated that sacrifices to him 
were not enough to avoid a coming judgment. Sacrifice alone would 
not keep Jerusalem safe. To the very end, though, the people (there 
were some deserters to Babylonian forces — 38:19; 39:9) from the 
king down had held that Jerusalem would not fall (37: Iff.). All of this 
was maintained in spite of obvious breaking of Yahweh's covenant 
with this people (11:10; 17:19-23; 43:4, 7). Yahweh's contention with 
his people was that covenant breakage was the reason for judgment 

From the above description two patterns emerge. The popular 
conclusion was that good (weal) and misfortune (woe) were condi- 

32 Both T. Laetsch, Bible Commentary: Jeremiah (St. Louis: Concordia, 1952) 87, 
and C. F. Keil, The Prophecies of Jeremiah (Biblical Commentary on the Old 
Testament; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950), 1. 145, comment on this point. Keil says: 
"The people had no shortcoming in the matter of sacrifice in the temple; but in this 
service, as being mere outward service of works, the Lord has no pleasure, if the heart 
is estranged from Him, rebels against His commandments." 


tioned upon externals (i.e., sacrifices). The popular misunderstanding 
was that weal and woe were not necessarily the outworking of 
Yahweh's covenantal promises. 

To be added to the above material on audience response are the 
numerous quotations of the people. An analysis of these passages 
yields the following assertions. To be expected is the obstinate refusal 
of the people to follow in Yahweh's will (6:16, 17; 7:10; 18:12; 22:21). 
In addition, there is indication of an attachment to externals — the 
temple (7:4), the religious functionaries (18:18), and the law (8:8). In 
these cases there is a confidence in the very presence of these objects. 
In some way these objects attest to a higher religious truth. What 
is especially striking in the audience quotations is the material 
on Jerusalem's continuance and Yahweh's faithfulness. Clearly the 
people desired peace (8:15; 43:1-2); and this peace was thought of as 
consistent with the nation's continuance. Numerous times the people 
expressed confidence that Jerusalem would not fall (17:15; 20:10; 
21:13; 36:29; 37:9). Jeremiah was, in fact, considered a traitor and a 
liar when he suggested otherwise (37:13; 38:4; 43:1-2). While on 
occasion there may have been some loss of confidence (33:24), 33 the 
people generally did not conceive of Jerusalem's fall. There was also 
confidence in Yahweh's faithful execution of his promises (5:12; 8:19- 
22). They evidently understood that his faithful execution of promises 
incorporated the preservation of Jerusalem and the nation. They 
lament in captivity, "Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not 
saved" (8:20). That Jerusalem fell caused them to doubt the promises, 
not to evaluate their personal lives. 

By fitting together the pieces of the audience response puzzle, the 
following picture emerges. They believed: 

(1) That weal and woe were conditioned on the physical act of 
sacrifice, not on the entire covenant Yahweh made with his 

(2) That Yahweh was faithful to his promises and that these 
promises included preservation of the nation from Babylo- 
nian conquest. 

(3) That Yahweh's faithful fulfillment of his promises and the 
nation's fall were contradictory and thus cause for despair. 34 

(4) That the continuing presence of externals such as the temple, 
law, and religious functionaries was evidence that Yahweh 

Note von Orelli, The Prophecies of Jeremiah, 253. 

Traces of these elements of contradiction and despair seem to be reflected in the 
Lachish Letters. Note J. B. Pritchard (ed.), ANET (3rd ed.; Princeton: Princeton 
University 1969) 322. Laetsch in Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 275, gives a succinct 
evaluation of the relevance of the Lachish material for Jeremiah studies. Note the more 
extended discussion by U. Cassuto, Biblical and Oriental Studies, Vol. II: Bible and 
Ancient Oriental Texts (Jerusalem: Magnes 1975) 229ff. 


would give weal, not woe, to his people. 
(5) That moral degradation of the nation held no necessary 
implications about Yahweh's faithful preservation of the 
nation from Babylonian hands. 35 

Origin of pseudoprophet "revelation" 

Once the issue of the national background from which both 
Jeremiah and the false prophets spoke has been established, the 
discussion can turn directly to issues relating to the pseudoprophets 
themselves. For analyzing their theology it is best to begin with its 
origin, "revelation." The amount of material on this subject is small 
(fewer than 15 references) but nonetheless relevant. The references 
divide into two groupings, those of the pseudoprophets' own opinion 
and those containing reference to evaluation by others. 

The personal testimony of the pseudoprophets is that by dreams 
(23:25) they received divine information pnpVn 'nTpVri). While this 
word may refer to prophetic dreams, its usage in Deut 13:1-2 makes 
clear that to dream a dream does not make one a true prophet. 36 The 
problem with using dreams as a claim to divine truth has been 
captured by Naegelsbach: "The dream is farthest withdrawn from the 
control of other men. Nothing is easier than to say: 'Last night I 
dreamed this or that!' Who can refute it? These prophets made an 
immoderate and questionable use of dreams." 37 Also, these false 
prophets prefaced their utterances by, "The Lord has said" (23:17). 
That this expression was frequent is indicated by the several times the 
book of Jeremiah recalls that these false prophets claimed to speak in 

"interesting is the fact that while the chosen people were perplexed over the fall of 
the nation, foreigners at least knew well enough the connection between sin and 
subsequent fall (22:8-9). 

36 See BDB 321, where cognates are also given. 

"Note Laetsch, Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 200, and C. W. E. Naegelsbach, 
The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (Lange's Commentaries; New York: Scribner's 
Sons, 1915) 214. S. Cramer, "The Practice of Divination in the Old Testament" 
(unpublished Old Testament Seminar paper, Grace Theological Seminary, Fall, 1973) 
20-21, further explains that "the use of dreams, or inspirational divination, has been 
regarded as the most direct means of divination . . . Often a dream was induced by 
means of incubation. This was accomplished by sleeping in some sacred place where 
gods or spirits would reveal knowledge to the sleeper. Possibly this is what Isaiah was 
referring to when he spoke of those 'who remain among the graves, and lodge in the 
monuments' (Is. 55:4)." Further references for study of the issue of divination and the 
origin of the false prophets' message are T. W. Davies, Magic, Divination, and 
Demonology (New York: KTAV, 1969); S. H. Hooke, Babylonian and Assyrian 
Religion (London: Hutchinson's University Library, 1953); Johnson, The Cultic 
Prophet in Ancient Israel, 30ff.; B. O. Long, "The Effect of Divination Upon Israelite 
Literature," JBL 92 (1973) 489-97; G. F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament (New 
York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1883) 464; and R. B. Zuck, "The Practice of Witchcraft in 
the Scriptures," BSac 128 (1971) 352-60. 


Yahweh's name (14:15; 23:25; 27:15; 29:8-9; 29:21). To speak thus 
would not only give a ring of authenticity to their words but would 
make their fraudulent claim most difficult to detect alongside the true 
prophets who also spoke in Yahweh's name. 

Yahweh's evaluation (and Jeremiah's, also) is that the pseudo- 
prophets' messages, while claiming authentication for oracular mate- 
rial, did not originate in Yahweh's council (23:18), and thus they were 
not given by Yahweh (23:31; 29:3 1). 38 "But if they had stood in My 
council, then they would have announced My words to My people" 
(23:22). A confrontation between Yahweh and false prophet was 

Two other times Yahweh gives his evaluation of the origin of the 
message of false prophets. "They speak a vision of their own imagi- 
nations" 0"13T D37 flTn). In 23:26 the origin of their message is 
further described: "Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who 
prophecy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their 
own heart." 39 The following verse indicates that the intention of such 
doings is "to make My people forget My name by their dreams which 
they relate to one another" (23:27). Initially it appears that the origin 
of their message is in their own heart, a deceptive human heart 
(np"iri; cf. 17:9, 3py, "crafty"). 40 But the context that follows goes on 
to develop a fuller picture of the origin of pseudoprophet "revelation." 
The leading traits of their "revelations" are mixing of falsity and truth 
(23:28) and stealing Yahweh's words from other sources (23:30). 
Laetsch has well summarized this passage: 

Since I am the omnipresent God, let every prophet be honest and faith- 
ful in preaching My Word — God, who knows the heart of man, 
demands that man be honest. If a prophet has had a dream which he 
would like to tell his neighbors, let him be honest enough to say: I am 
telling you a dream of my own. And if a prophet has My Word, let him 
speak My Word faithfully, literally, as truth, just as it has been given to 
him, without alteration, without changing its sense in the least. How 
dare man mingle the chaff of his own dreams into the pure wheat of 
the Word of the omnipresent, omniscient Lord Jehovah in order to 

While the discussion of E. Kingsbury, "The Prophets and the Council of 
Yahweh," JBL 83 (1964) 279-86, is helpful in discussing especially Micaiah, Isaiah, and 
Ezekiel, he overdraws the parallels between these prophets and Babylonian literature. 

Jer 23:26 is particularly problematic textually. Discussions of the textual diffi- 
culties can be found in Keil, The Prophecies of Jeremiah, 362-63, and Naegelsbach, 
The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 214-15. The major questions concern the double 
interrogatives ("TID and -71) in the MT, whether the reading of the LXX, Syriac, 
Targum, and Vg is preferable, and whether $'. should be read tt*X (ibid., 215). 

Note W. L. Holladay (ed.), A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old 
Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 281 and 395, where he suggests reading 

npin as main. 


find more ready and willing hearers! . . . Whatever truth they preached, 
they did not obtain, as they claim, by divine revelation. They stole this 
truth, 'a man from his neighbor,' from someone else, either directly 
from a true prophet, or from some other false prophet who also had 
stolen it, or from any other person. 

In summary, the book of Jeremiah declares that the origin of 
pseudoprophet theology was through a mixture of purported dreams 
and Yahweh's Word stolen from other sources, all of which sprang 
out of the deceptive hearts of men whose intention was to make the 
nation forget Yahweh's character. 

A characterization of pseudoprophets 

False prophet traits as depicted in the book of Jeremiah follow 
the pattern established for the origin of their message. These traits 
may be grouped for convenience into five divisions: (1) personal 
immorality, (2) encouragement of evil, (3) confidence, (4) compati- 
bility with the populace, and (5) ineffectiveness. The goal of this 
analysis is to suggest the nature of a theology consistent with these 
traits. Their theology evidently could legitimize such traits and was 
compatible with them. 

Personal immorality. Of course, not every false prophet is con- 
demned for gross immorality. Hananiah in 28: Iff. is not so con- 
demned, with the exception of the reference to his not speaking 
Yahweh's word (28:15-16). 

Two passages are worthy of discussion here: 6:13 and 29:23. In 
the first of these, the description of pseudoprophets is that they deal 
falsely and are greedy of gain. Base gain replaced a desire to lead the 
nation into obedience to covenant stipulations. Their desire for base 
gain seems to serve as the reason for Yahweh's promise (v 12) that he 
will turn valuables (houses, fields, etc.) over to others. As they sought 
gain, so things they valued would be given to their enemies. Base gain 
as a principle of operation led the false prophets to bring only 
superficial healing (6:14). They also made inaccurate analyses of the 
degree of the nation's security (6:14). 

Laetsch, Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 201. 

The issue of prophets seeking gain is also suggested by Mic 3:1 1. In the Jer 6:12- 
14 passage, the false prophets are cited for only superficially (note Holladay, A Concise 
Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 319, where he translates the 
Niphal feminine participle H7J73, from 7/j?, by "superficially") healing the wound of 
the people. The nature of the wound is suggested by the same usage of this term,"13UJ, 
in Jer 4:6 and 6: 1 where the word refers to the coming destruction from the north (note 
T. W. Overholt, The Threat of Falsehood [3 vols.; Naperville: Allenson, 1970], 3. 75. 
Thus, the pseudoprophets gave only superficial treatment ("Peace, Peace") to the 
impending national threat. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 64- 
66, points out that this imagery of the wound not being given adequate treatment is set 


The second of these passages, 29:23 (note 23:14 also 43 ), charges 
two pseudoprophets with personal immorality. Jeremiah 29 records 
"the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from 
Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the 
prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into 
exile from Jerusalem to Babylon" (29:1). The exiles had contented 
themselves that they were quite well equipped with prophetic sources 
in Babylon (29: 15 44 ), two of these prophets being Ahab and Zedekiah 
(29:21). These false prophets, though in exile, evidently had been 
declaring the perpetuity of the nation as indicated by the continued 
existence of the temple and the Davidic throne. 

Ahab and Zedekiah, says the letter, will face death by the hand 
of the Babylonian king (29:21). This slaying will take the form of 
roasting in the fire and will form the basis of a curse-form among the 
exiles (29:22). 45 The reason cited 46 for their judgment is that "they 
have acted foolishly in Israel and have committed adultery with their 
neighbors' wives, and have spoken words in My name falsely" (29:23). 
Clearly, personal immorality is the charge against these two false 
prophets. Such looseness indicates that at least these prophets' level 
of morality was not consistent with OT norms and may be suggestive 
of a theological perspective from which such practices could arise 
(perhaps confidence in Jerusalem's existence apart from adherence to 
the moral obligations of Yahweh's treaty with the nation). 

Encouragement of evil. Not unexpectedly, the pseudoprophets 
are charged with the promotion of evil among the members of the 

in treaty terminology (curse form). The wounds' incurable nature can be treated only 
by the healing produced by conformity to treaty obligations in this case. 

To be sure, 23:14 charges pseudoprophets with "the committing of adultery." 
Laetsch, Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 198, concludes that the adultery here is of a 
personal moral nature. However, Overholt, The Threat of Falsehood, 54-55, suggests 
that the reference here may be to adultery as national apostasy, thus seeing the 
reference to Sodom and Gomorrah as one of judgment. Overholt's point may be borne 
out by the limited usage of HTnyUJ, "a horrible thing" (Holladay, A Concise Hebrew 
and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 380, suggests two roots, THytf? and 
"nVUHtf, together occurring a total of four times) in the OT. Each of these passages 
could be interpreted in terms of national apostasy. 

44 The verses that follow, 29:16-20, are not included in the LXX. In this light note 
the discussion of Naegelsbach, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 249. 

Much earlier. The Code of Hammurabi stipulated the punishment of burning for 
one who was involved in immorality. According to Pritchard (ed.), ANET, 172, law 
157 reads: "If a seignor has lain in the bosom of his mother after (the death of) his 
father, they shall burn both of them," the word for burning being iqalu^usunuti from 
qalu. Conceivably, use of fire for punishment of adultery was practiced by the 
Babylonians much later. Compare Deut 22:22 as the OT pattern. 

4 Jer 29:33 uses the expression "\VM ]JP with a following verb OU7V) in the 
perfect to indicate cause or reason; note, GKC 318, n. 1. 


covenanted people. Two chapters (23 and 29) in Jeremiah clearly 
make this point, the primary section occurring in 23:1 Iff. In this 
passage false prophets are accused of strengthening "the hands of 
evildoers, so that no one has turned back from his wickedness" 
(23:14). This was possible because of the position of leadership held 
by these prophets. Out of the circle of the false prophets, ungodli- 
ness 48 had "gone forth into all the land" (23:15). This was accom- 
plished partially at least by their promotion of the continuing presence 
of the temple as a tenet in their theology, requiring in the process 
promotion of idolatry (23:11 in comparison with 7:30-31 and 32:34). 
In fact, they had taken the lead in such, indicated by the use of the 
term IPD'tiP (from WW — "put, set, place") in 32:34. The word "they" 
in v 34 refers to those enumerated in v 32. In light of this promotion 
of evil it is not surprising that Shemaiah is judged, according to 
29:32, for preaching "rebellion against the Lord." 

From the personal corruption of the false prophets one would 
expect corruption to be promoted among the people. Surprisingly the 
very object which these prophets used as a leading point in their 
theology (the temple) is the very channel through which further 
corruption and idolatry is promoted. 

Confidence. A third leading trait of false prophets in Jeremiah's 
day was that of confidence. This trait is suggested by 23:31-32. Verse 
31 suggests that these prophets took ("use", cf. DTlp/H) their tongues 
and uttered oracles. They took the oracular initiative; they did not 
have words put in their mouths by Yahweh. The fact that the word 
"take" is a participle may indicate repeated orations, emphasizing 
their readiness for opportunities to ejaculate their supposed divine 
words. This eagerness to prophesy is further indicated in 23:32 by the 
description of them as those who made "reckless boasting." The term 
here is DJTITnMI, indicating "loose talk, boastful tales." 49 The picture 
which emerges from these notes is that pseudoprophets were seeking 
opportunities to speak and readily boasted of their ideas. This, added 

47 This idea is suggested in 23:15 by the use of ]Q (rIKQ) which originally signified 
"separation" which "naturally derived on the one hand the sense of {taken) from 
among . . ." (note GKC, §119vw). 

The word "ungodliness" (NASB, "pollution") is 71930, the verbal form being 
employed in Jer 23:11 to describe the priests and prophets. The root ^311 may have 
several cognates such as the Ugaritic hnp and hanapu occurring once in the Amarna 
literature. Each connotes something of a haughty impiety. Note C. H. Gordon, 
UT, 403. 

While this term is problematic, Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic 
Lexicon, 291, does suggest this meaning. Note also the reference to this term by J. 
Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 
1968) 333, n. 261. 


to their personal immorality and promotion of such, produces a 
volatile combination. 

Compatibility with the populace. Jer 32:31-35 (cf. 5:31) suggests 
this. Admittedly, this reference is a generalization about the religious 
decline of the nation over a period of time (32:31). The results of their 
spiritual decline are briefly catalogued with little explanation (32:33- 
35). However, what is informative about this passage is its recogni- 
tion that both the populace and the leaders (including prophets) were 
involved in this decline. This may be taken to imply that there existed 
a level of compatibility between the theological perspective of the 
populace and that of the false prophets. The same compatibility may 
be indicated as well by the numerous correspondences between these 
prophets and the people (such as their mutual moral decline). This 
trait alone is sobering in light of the religious ideas of the populace as 
previously described. When, however, this characteristic is added to 
the above, the magnitude of opposition to the true prophets becomes 

Furthermore, the compatibility of pseudoprophet and populace 
may indicate that on occasion these prophets "stole" ideas from the 
populace and incorporated them in their oracles and that the people 
may have taken, of course, their religious ideas from the prophets. 
This exchange of ideas would create solidarity of opposition that 
would make Jeremiah's ministry most difficult. 

Ineffectiveness. While the false prophets were confident and 
boastful, no doubt encouraged by the acceptance of the populace, 
they were nonetheless ineffective. This may, in fact, be their primary 
trait. Several indications suggest this idea (note 4:9; 5:13; 6:14). The 
leading indication is the repeated reference to these men as prophets 
of deceit and falsehood (5:31 50 ; 8:10; 14:14; 20:6 51 ; 23:14; 23:32; 27:10; 
27:14; 27:16; 28:15). In each of these references the term 2 V 1 is used 
in connection with the pseudoprophets. This term is found through- 

50 On the understanding of the parallelism in this verse, W. L. Holladay, "The 
Priests Scrape Out On Their Hands,' Jeremiah V 31," VT 15 (1965) 111-13 suggests 
that the translation of the first part of the verse might best be read: "The prophets have 
prophesied falsely, and the priests deconsecrate themselves," based on his interpreta- 
tion of "P X773 as technical terminology employed in the consecration of a priest. 

5l There is disagreement over the status of Pashur as prophet. E. W. Nicholson, 
The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, Chapters 1-25 (Cambridge Bible Commentary on 
The New English Bible; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1963) 167, suggests that 
Pashur is not a prophet while Naegelsbach, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 187, 
suggests that he is. The comment of Jer 20:6 would tend to support Naegelsbach. For 
some help in understanding the renaming of Pashur see W. L. Holladay, "The 
Covenant With the Patriarchs Overturned: Jeremiah's Intention In 'Terror On Every 
Side' (Jer. 20:1-6)," JBL 91 (1972) 305-20 and D. L. Christensen, "Terror on Every 
Side' In Jeremiah," JBL 92 (1973) 498-502. 


out the OT but is much more frequent in Jeremiah. 5 This calls for 
special attention to the term. 

The term means "deceit, falsehood." However, very often the 
term is set in a legal context. If such is the case, one would expect 
Jeremiah to employ the term within its legal setting and perhaps build 
upon and enlarge it. 55 This is especially important in light of Jere- 
miah's self-analysis that he is always indicting and accusing his people 
(note D'H , 15:10). 56 Jeremiah employs this legal term as a description 
of the ineffectiveness of the pseudoprophet analysis that Jerusalem 
will not fall to foreign enemies. 57 The false prophets claim, "all is 
well," but the actual events are to the contrary. Their words do not 
have power to effect events as they predict (cf. 14:14-15; 27:10; 27:14- 
17). Certainly the words of pseudoprophets were prevarications but 
they were also marked by ineffectiveness, lack of power to achieve the 
predicted outcome. 

The message of the pseudoprophets glossed over the real issue, 
that of obedience to covenant stipulations (23:13-22 and 7:3ff.). 
Because they did, these words, when trusted in, resulted in the actual 
forfeiture of Jerusalem's security. These prophets "counselled a course 
of action diametrically opposed to that which would have been 
necessary to avoid the coming destruction of the city, temple and 
land." While their perspective allowed them to pronounce security, 
it was a security built on the wrong basis. Rather than building on 
Yahweh's covenant stipulations (cf. 23:19-22 with Deuteronomy 28 
and especially Deut 29:19), they built their security only upon the 
hopes attached to the Davidic throne (2 Sam 7:13ff. in comparison 
with Ps 89:30-37) and thus to the continuance of the place of David's 

According to this writer's count, the term in all forms occurs 113 times in the OT 
and 34 times in Jeremiah alone. Note S. Mandelkern, Veteris Testamenti Concor- 
dantiae (Graz: Akademische, 1955) 1232-33. 

53 So Overholt, The Threat of Falsehood, 1. 
See Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 383, and BDB 1055. 
The root ")j?tfj has several cognates (Arabic, Syriac, Aramaic, and Assyrian). Gordon, 
UT, 494 does list, though does not define, a suggested root sqr (no. 2475) in Ugaritic. 

55 Note the discussion of Overholt, The Threat of Falsehood, 76ff. He says: "We 
might expect that in the process of employing the noun seqer as one of the important 
concepts in his theological vocabulary, Jeremiah would not lose sight of the predomi- 
nant legal sense in which the term was usually employed, but would rather build upon 
and enlarge it" (ibid., 91). 

For discussion of this point see J. Bright, "A Prophet's Lament and Its Answer, 
Jeremiah 15:10-21," Int 28 (1974) 59-74. 

"Overholt, The Threat of Falsehood, 92. 

58 Ibid. An interesting study is also involved in Yahweh's usage of 3lU and itjn 
in connection with the false prophets, 22:13-17 and 23:17, for example. Note also 
the contrast between Isa 55:11 (Yahweh's word is not empty, void — p"H ) and the 
futility (^Sn) to which the false prophets' words lead, see Renner, "False and True 
Prophecy," 97. 


throne, Jerusalem. Their view left no room for obedience to the 
demands of the Mosaic treaty. 

Pseudoprophet quotations. The sources for discussion here are 
2:26-27; 6:14; 8:11; 14:13; 23:17; 26:8, 9, 11; 27:9, 14, 16; 28:2-4, 11; 
29:24; and 37:19 (23:25 was previously discussed 59 ). The first of these 
references suggests the contradictory thought pattern of the people 
and false prophets; they served other gods but imagined that in times 
of distress this practice would not keep Yahweh from responding to 
their cry. 60 Based on the other references, the following formulation 
seems to be legitimate. 

The leading claim of the pseudoprophets was "Peace! Peace!" 
(6:14; 8:11) and that the people would have "peace" (14:13; 23:17). In 
the case of 6: 14 and 8:11 the "peace" promised by the false prophets is 
set in the context of treaty terminology. 61 In the face of breach of the 
Mosaic Covenant they proclaimed the general welfare of the people, 
thus promoting the notion of security. 62 They seemingly understood 
that covenant breach had little to do with welfare or the lack of it. Jer 
23:17 presents this very picture. Those who despised Yahweh and 
walked in obstinate rebellion against him were told by the pseudo- 
prophets, "You will have peace . . . Calamity will not come upon 
you." On this issue of a non-calamitous future these prophets laid 
particular stress: "You will not see the sword nor will you have 
famine, but I will give you lasting peace in this place" (14:13). The 
words "lasting peace" (literally, "peace of truth," HZDN Di^UJ) empha- 
size that this promised peace was an assured, steadfast, predictable 
outcome. All this evidently was uttered under the menacing threat 
of drought (14:1). 

From these observations the theological formulation of pseudo- 
prophets was that the welfare of the people was assured, in spite of 
obvious covenant infractions and menacing threats (for example, 
drought and removal of temple vessels). The other quotations of false 
prophets all fit this mold. In spite of continuing disobedience and 
increasing international threats against security, they claimed that no 
calamity, sword, or famine will interrupt (23:17). The people will not 
serve the king of Babylon and he will not come against them (27:9, 

59 See p. 87. 
Keil, The Prophecies of Jeremiah, 68-69, points out that this reference is a 
generalization about all periods of the nation's history and that, therefore, the reference 
to "Israel" is a reference to the entire nation, not just the ten northern tribes. 

6l See the discussion on p. 89, n. 42. On the issue of covenant confession on the 
part of the people see Rust, Covenant and Hope, 99-105. 

62 The employment of the term D /VJ is to be understood in the wider Ancient Near 
Eastern meaning of a "settled well-being." Note as an example the use of the Akkadian 
cognate salamu. 

Cf. Keil, The Prophecies of Jeremiah, 249; von Orelli, The Prophecies of 
Jeremiah, 122; Naegelsbach, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 149. 


14; 37:19). Even the setback to security suffered in 597 B.C. will soon 
be rectified, they claimed (27:16; 28:2-4, 11). On these bases they 
rejected Jeremiah's oracles against Jerusalem's security and concern- 
ing a short exile (26:8-11; 29:24). 

Of special importance among the many quotations is that from 
the mouth of Hananiah in chap. 28. He predicts the return of two 
items that may symbolize the essence of his theology — the temple 
vessels and the former king. The return of these seemed to mean for 
him the breaking of the yoke of the king of Babylon and the 
continuing security of the capital of the Southern Kingdom. That he 
should cite these two items would imply that the proclamation of 
security required the existence of the temple and the presence of 
continuing kingship. Putting together these ideas with other quota- 
tions, it appears that the factors which supported a Peace Theology 
were the temple and the dynasty. These components became a "Para- 
Covenantal" theology built on dynastic and temple hopes. 

Jeremiah also spoke a "Covenant Theology" based on the bless- 
ings and curses of the Mosaic treaty. Certainly Jeremiah also knew 
that the nation possessed a secure future (cf. 33:6-9) but this did not 
blind him to the stipulations of the covenant. 

The fact that both proclaimed a theology built on covenants 
made the judgmental nature of Jeremiah's word all the more unac- 
ceptable. Pseudoprophets had prooftexts too! This pictures all too 
clearly the insidious nature of falsehood and clearly implies a number 
of current-day applications. 


The theology of the pseudoprophets in Jeremiah may be described 
as a "Para-Covenantal" theology built on the hopes attached to the 
temple and the dynasty. This is in basic conformity with the 
religious ideas held by the populace. Pseudoprophets and the pop- 
ulace encouraged each other and together rejected the theology of 

This "Para-Covenantal" theology (originating in a mixture of 
claimed dreams and Yahweh's words) was built on the assumption 
that Jerusalem's existence was without condition. Therefore, the only 
realistic proclamation of such theology was peace. Futhermore, Mosaic 
Covenant infractions were really of no consequence in this theology. 
This theology, distorted as it was, could exist alongside rebellion 
against Yahweh's demands. Given the perspective of pseudoprophet 
theology with its attendant prooftexts, Jeremiah gained little hearing. 

An interesting interpretation of the importance of the temple vessels in the 
theological formulations of the people is given by P. R. Ackroyd, "The Temple Vessels 
— A Continuity Theme," Studies in the Religion of Ancient Israel (SVT 23; Leiden: 
Brill, 1972) 166ff.; note especially 175-77. 


Practically speaking, the appeal of this false theology was its 
approximation to certain elements in Yahweh's covenantal dealings 
with his people. Because it approximated correct theology, its results 
were all the more devastating. The pseudoprophets spoke of Yahweh's 
work and will partially, not fully. Their theological distortion was 
primarily in not speaking Yahweh's demands; they spoke only of 
certain promises. 

Present-day parallels may be seen among those who speak part 
of the counsel of God and who, by not speaking all of it, have not 
really spoken it at all. These same characteristics are found among 
those whose "words" sound somehow orthodox but whose content 
behind those words is ominously unorthodox. 

This study of Jeremiah brings to the surface several points 
worthy of note. One is that understanding carefully the nature of the 
book requires understanding the plentiful material on pseudoprophets. 
Material so common to a corpus of literature must be studied 
seriously to aid in interpreting the book. The relative absence of 
writing on pseudoprophets in Jeremiah undoubtedly impoverishes a 
worthy understanding of the book. 

Further, this canonical material on pseudoprophets furnishes at 
least a two-fold warning and a godly example. The two-fold warning 
is a warning to the one who speaks and the one who hears God's 
revelation. The one who speaks the revelation (in any age) must speak 
all of it, not just a part. He is warned that the desire to be heard and 
followed is not the end of speaking the revelation. The end is 
speaking the particulars of God's Word fully, clearly in terms of the 
whole (the very context in which God gave meaning to the particu- 
lars). As well, there is due warning for those who hear the revela- 
tion. The hearer must want to hear the whole of the matter, not just 
those parts that justify his present theological ideas and their sub- 
sequent activities. And he must know the revelation adequately 
enough to know when the whole has not been spoken. Too commonly 
the Church has been plagued by speakers whose perversion is to 
speak the revelation only in part and hearers who prefer only a part 
or who do not know that only a part has been spoken. 

But just as surely this study highlights the sterling example of 
Jeremiah who spoke faithfully and fully the whole of Yahweh's 
counsel, spoke it whatever the consequence. His example encourages 
those who measure success by how fully and faithfully they have 
spoken the Word of the living God, not simply by how pleasant are 
the consequences that result from speaking. 

65 So S. J. De Vries, Prophet Against Prophet (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 
148, observes concerning OT false and true prophets: "The basic conflict is always 
between covenant integrity and political opportunism." 


James A. Boyer 

A major project in the field of New Testament Greek grammar and 
syntactical studies is under way and right now is completing its 
first major goal. 

For many years I have felt the need for a new tool for Greek 
exegesis, a concordance which will do for the study of syntactical 
constructions what a word concordance does for the study of word 
meanings. When a student of the NT wants to know the true meaning 
of a word, he goes to a concordance, finds all the places in the NT 
where that word occurs, and then studies its usage in all those places 
(a lexicon or dictionary merely reflects the results of some other 
scholar's study of such usage). It is obvious that language includes 
more than words; it includes words in syntactical relationships. And 
it is just as important to study the usage of these "grammatical 
constructions" as it is to study the separated words. But thus far it 
has been exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to find the other 
places in the NT where the same construction occurs. The grammars 
discuss some constructions and give some examples, but not complete 
lists. We need a new tool. 

But such a work would be so huge and the task of preparing it so 
great as to be almost impossible — at least until the coming of 
computers. I began to inquire into the possibilities of using this 
mechanical means to lessen the work and speed up the process. Of 
course, much work is being done in using computers for the study of 
languages, but none even approaches the sophistication needed for 
this program. About three years ago, the Lord brought to me (I 
firmly believe it was His doing) a young man who was interested in 
Greek and an expert computer programmer, Mr. Paul Miller. 

Mr. Miller was then a student at Indiana University, majoring in 
Greek and Religious Studies, and also pursuing extensive studies in 
computer programming and data structures. He has since graduated 
with high honors and has been serving as programming consultant 
and lecturer in Computer Science at Indiana University. He has 
received national recognition through papers presented at both theo- 
logical and computer science conferences, and a number of published 
articles in the field. This year he begins his work toward a Master of 
Arts in New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 


The first step in the program was to get the syntactical informa- 
tion ready in a form which could be stored in a computer data base 
from which it could be drawn for the grammatical concordances. This 
involved the morphological analysis and identification of every word 
in the NT together with some functional description as well. Even in 
this work, computer programs were devised to do much of the work, 
leaving only the choice between alternate possibilities to manual 
editing. All verbs were completely parsed, all nouns, adjectives, 
pronouns, and participles were identified by gender, number, case, 
and in the case of pronouns, further functional classification. Prepo- 
sitions, adverbs, conjunctions, and particles also were to some degree 
functionally identified. The entire NT is now completed through this 
first stage. 

As the work progressed, it became obvious that such a collection 
of information would itself be a useful tool. Unbound computer- 
prepared print-outs of the Grammatical Directory were made avail- 
able to students and the response was very encouraging. As a result, 
we are presently investigating the publication of the whole data-base 
for the entire NT. It will be approximately the size of a large lexicon. 

Now, to consider the possibilities of the larger and ultimate goal 
of the project, The Grammatical Concordance. Some examples may 
illustrate the potential usefulness of the tool. A frequently expressed 
misconception is that first-class conditions (ei with the indicative 
mood) indicate that the condition expressed is really true, and 
therefore, that they should be translated "since" rather than "if." But 
when the places in the NT where this construction occurs are exam- 
ined, it is clear that such is totally false. (Look at Matt 12:27, John 
10:37, 1 Cor 15:14; try reading them "since"; there are dozens of other 
examples like these.) First-class conditions do not express states 
which are true; they indicate that the result is just as true as the 

Can the interpretive problem in Rom 1:4 be solved by taking the 
word for "the dead" as ablative? English versions translate "from the 
dead," which is an ablative sense. But the Greek is rendered literally 
"resurrection q/"the dead (ones, pi.)," a genitive idea. When we study 
concordantly the usage with "resurrection," we find that the genitive 
expresses "the one(s) raised," while the ablative idea of "out from 
among the dead ones" is expressed in Greek by a preposition (ek). So 
the verse is not referring solely to Christ's own resurrection, but to 
the resurrection of dead ones. 

A common expression of time in NT Greek is made up of a 
preposition (ev) with the articular infinitive. Usually, the infinitive is 
in the present tense and the expression denotes "in the process of a 
certain action," or, "while a certain thing was happening, or continu- 
ing." But sometimes the aorist infinitive is used. What effect does that 


have on the meaning? How can one tell? The answer obviously is to 
compare all the places where the construction (ev + article + aorist 
infinitive) occurs to see what sense the context demands. But where 
are these examples to be found? One might find some of them in a 
grammar, or one can start hunting through all the places where ev 
occurs in the NT (there are 2,767 of them!). With the grammatical 
concordance one can connect to the computer by phone and address 
a couple of commands to it; it then will search through the entire NT 
data base for these three precise conditions (the search takes about 
two minutes) and in a few more minutes one can have a complete 
printed list from which to continue study. 

The magnitude and the nature of the information thus available 
is limited only by the ingenuity of the scholar in formulating the 
proper instruction to the computer. 

By the very nature of the case, such a Grammatical Concordance 
will never be published as a "book"; rather it will be an exhaustless 
well of new information from which one can draw whatever and 
however much he needs. Its possible uses will be almost limitless, 
answering specific questions scholars may ask about syntactical struc- 
tures on the phrase level, the clause level, the sentence level, or 
beyond. The information would be available by mail or phone at 
a center for the service. These details have not yet been worked out, 
but plans to make the information available on a wider basis are 
under way. 


The Book of Leviticus, by G. J. Wenham. The New International Com- 
mentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. xiii + 
362. $9.95. 

The publication of any commentary on Leviticus is an event in OT 
studies and is gratefully received by those interested in that field. This volume 
is unique in that it is the first major commentary by a conservative on this 
book since the days of Keil and Delitzsch. For this reason, we are doubly 
grateful both to the author and the publisher for the present volume. 
Wenham states that "Leviticus used to be the first book that Jewish children 
studied in the synagogue. In the modern church, it tends to be the last part of 
the Bible anyone looks at seriously." Perhaps this volume will help to redress 
that imbalance. 

The format of the book is largely controlled by three topical goals. First, 
Wenham desires to integrate pertinent material from the Ancient Near East 
into the explanation of the book (both as a whole and as a part). Second, he 
attempts to utilize (whenever usable) the work of modern social anthropolo- 
gists. Third, he makes substantial use of literary criticism (not to be confused 
with source criticism). The simple reading of these comments might mislead 
the reader concerning the real character of the book, however. Its real 
emphasis may be discerned by noting his attitude to source and historical 
criticism: "Detailed discussion of these issues has been deliberately eschewed 
in this commentary. It seemed more important to establish the plain meaning 
of the text and its theological message than to pursue conjectures about how 
the book was written." This emphasis is reflected on every page of the book 
and probably explains why he is noncommittal on Mosaic authorship (p. 13). 
It is the meaning he regards as important, not by whom /when it might have 
been written. 

The introduction (pp. 1-36) includes the usual subjects, but the majority 
of the space is devoted to the discussion of four theological cruxes: the 
presence of God, holiness, the role of sacrifice, and the Sinai Covenant. These 
are skilfully treated, although the approach is unfortunate for someone in a 
hurry. For example, this is certainly the best presentation of sacrifice now in 
print. Yet, the only way to grasp the issues which the book handles is to read 
the entire book, since the introductory section on Sacrifice is incomplete. 
This is, of course, probably unavoidable if the form of a commentary is to be 
maintained. Still, I would have liked to have seen much greater space given to 
articulating the theology of sacrifice in the introduction. 

The text itself is characterized by a consistent methodology. Each section 
of Leviticus is discussed by first considering the structure of the section. In 


my view, this is one of the best features of the commentary. He is aware, for 
example, that chaps. 8-10 are a "literary triptych, i.e., three pictures designed 
to hang together so as to illuminate and enrich the meaning of each other." 
This literary technique, when understood, makes the order and, therefore, 
meaning of these three chapters come alive. (See p. 133 for his excellent 
demonstration.) Following the section on structure, the author then gives an 
exposition of the text. Frequently, he here introduces a discussion of a topic 
of importance located in that section; thus, pp. 51-63 (covering chap. 1) 
discuss the topic of burnt offering. Each literary unit is then closed with a 
brief discussion of that unit/ topic in light of the NT. 

The real strength of the book, of course, is that it gives us a twentieth 
century analysis of some of the most important and perplexing topics in the 
OT. Wenham does not feel that it is necessary to choose between the two 
major possible meanings for the burnt offering. Does the animal die in the 
worshipper's place as his substitute, or does it receive the death penalty 
because of the sin transferred by the laying on of hands? To Wenham, it is 
not necessary to decide between these, "They both fit in well with sacrifices 
making atonement" (p. 62). Atonement ("133) is paying a ransom, which he 
cautions must not be seen in light of English connotations. "But in the OT 
the payment of a ransom was a very humane act. It allowed a guilty person to 
be punished with a lesser penalty than he deserved." He rightly rejects the 
concept of "cover" for "133. 

Wenham carefully avoids the typological approach which has so vitiated 
the utility of the older commentators. This has not, however, limited the use 
of Leviticus for the Christian. On the contrary, it has actually established the 
timelessness of the book in that it shows to all succeeding generations the 
great themes of holiness, sin, and atonement from the perspective of a holy 
God. In this respect, it might be argued that attempts to find "types" actually 
destroyed interest (note the long drought of commentaries), since they 
insisted on its relevance only within a Christian setting. 

Wenham offers a useful understanding of the reasoning behind the issue 
of ritual cleanliness. Anything is unclean that does not mirror order and 
perfection. Birds must have two wings for flying; fish, fins and scales to swim; 
land animals, hoofs to run with. "Insects which fly but which have many legs 
are unclean, whereas locusts, which have wings and only two hopping legs are 
clean" (p. 169). In this respect, the animal world symbolizes the human 
world; anything that is not normal is unclean. This method is easily prefer- 
able to the alternatives, but it does not answer all the problems. For example, 
Wenham states that insects which swarm are unclean since this violates order 
because they have no clear-cut motion peculiar to their sphere of life. Yet, 
locusts are clean and they clearly swarm — even though their primary 
function was to hop about. Furthermore, it might be difficult to explain how 
"swarmers" (fHW) in Gen 1:20 could be pronounced "good" if they were 
already violating normality. 

As a last point, I would like to establish a call for a second volume. My 
complaint is not with the book; rather, it is with what is not written. To 
arrive at the meaning of a text is, indeed, the most admirable task of the 
interpreter. Yet, Leviticus 25 (Jubilee) is an example of the need for expanded 
discussion within both a historical and intra-biblical perspective. A much 


more in-depth discussion of misarum / andurarum in the Ancient Near East 
would greatly help the discussion. Did the practice of debt cancelation cease 
with the end of the Old Babylonian period?* What is the nature of Zedekiah's 
release (Jer 34:8ff.) and how does this fit with the termination of the practice 
in Mesopotamia nearly a thousand years earlier? What might these questions 
(and many others) contribute to arriving at a date for Leviticus 25 in 
particular and the book in general? 

On the whole, it is a joy to have the book in print and it will in all 
likelihood serve at least another generation. The publishers are to be com- 
mended both for the noble series (NICOT) and the reasonable price. 

♦Recently, some strong challenges have arisen to attempts to connect the Jubilee with 
similar practices in the Old Babylonian period. N. P. Lemche, "The Manumission of 
Slaves — the Fallow Year — the Sabbatical Year — the Jobel Year," VT2f> (1976) 38- 
59; also by the same author "'Andurarum and Misharum: Comments on the Problem of 
Social Edicts and Their Application in the Ancient Near East," JNES 38 (1979) 11-22. 
Lemche is not alone in his criticisms. If a link can be made connecting Jubilee with 
misarum, an early (ca. 1500 B.C.) date for Leviticus 25 would fit well indeed. 

Donald L. Fowler 

The Bible and Recent Archaeology, by Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon. 
Atlanta: John Knox, 1978. Pp. 105. $6.50. Paper. 

It is a pleasure to read a popular treatise on biblical archaeology from 
the hand of so eminent an authority as the late Kathleen M. Kenyon. The 
reader will recognize the meticulous touch of a true professional who is also 
able to convey the excitement and the dynamic of archaeology. Although 
barely 100 pages, it is an attractive and useful volume, "intended for a general 
readership," as she emphatically states in the introduction. There are fine 
illustrations as well as a bibliography and index. Unfortunately, the book was 
printed with such narrow inner margins that one almost has to break the 
spine to read the text. 

The book's six chapters cover the scope of biblical history from the 
patriarchs through the NT, relating major events and personalities to the 
findings of archaeology. One will read, for example, of Jebusite walls at 
Jerusalem, of Late Bronze Age temples at Lachish, of "Solomon's stables," of 
Herodian architecture in Jerusalem, and of the fortress at Masada. The 
emphasis, as one might expect from Kenyon, is upon Palestine, with only 
occasional reference to Mesopotamia and Egypt. Most of the major digs in 
Palestine are discussed with disproportionate space devoted to her own digs. 

The word "recent" in the title must be taken rather loosely by the person 
who has kept in touch with biblical archaeology. Kenyon states that by recent 
she means "since the Second World War." Indeed fifteen percent of the 
illustrations in the book are of her own dig at Jericho, which took place 
about a quarter of a century ago; in fact, at least fifteen of the photos were 
also published in her Digging Up Jericho in 1957. One must not think that 
reading this book will apprise one of all the latest finds in Palestine and 
Transjordan. Some major discoveries are reported, such as the tablets at Ebla 


and the structures at the southwest corner of the Temple platform in 
Jerusalem. But there is no mention of the Philistine temple uncovered at Tel 
Qasile, or the horned altar found at Beer-sheba, or the excavations at Deir 
c Alla, for example. 

Kenyon chose the title as a deliberate echo of her father's famous book, 
The Bible and Archaeology (1940). The emphases of the two books are quite 
different, since the earlier volume concentrates heavily on the lands beyond 
Palestine. Also, it is obvious that the father is more the biblical scholar while 
the daughter is more the professional archaeologist. Yet there are some 
interesting similarities. Both give a thumbnail sketch of the documentary 
hypothesis of the Pentateuch in their opening chapter as a foundation for 
their discussions of the Patriarchs. Each reaches a similar conclusion on the 
archaeology of et-Tell even though a major dig took place there between their 
writings. Sir Frederic: The evidence from c Ai is "one indication of archae- 
ology which appears less favorable to the trustworthiness of the Book of 
Joshua." Dame Kathleen: ". . . the probability is that there is no historicity in 
the story of the attack on c Ai." 

Perhaps because of her focus on biblical history Kenyon seems more 
negative here than in previous writings. "All reputable modern scholars 
accept as certain that the Pentateuch . . . only acquired the form in which [it 
has] reached us by a very long process of the combination of oral and tribal 
records, of editing and redactions" (p. 7). "The great interval in time before 
they were put in writing makes it certain that [the Patriarchal tales] do not 
constitute an historical record" (p. 23). "The one thing that is certainly out of 
the question ... is the chronology given in the Bible" (p. 30). "There was no 
route [of the Exodus and] it is futile to try and trace it" (p. 33). Kenyon 
would suggest not only two exoduses, but claims that further fragmentation 
is necessary to reconcile the conflicting evidence in the Bible and in archae- 
ology (p. 43). 

But these points of controversy by no means dominate the book. For the 
one who can read with a discerning eye this is a most enjoyable book and one 
that will demonstrate again the enormous contribution of archaeology to 
biblical studies. 

Robert Ibach, Jr. 

Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, by Brevard S. Childs. 
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979. Pp. 688. $28.50. 

As someone has said, reading a book on OT Introduction is like reading 
a telephone directory — a somewhat less than scintillating task. The typical 
Introduction includes a survey of the history of the discipline of OT study, 
discussion of various topics relating to the entire OT (such as textual 
criticism, literary genres, and the like), and introduction to each book of the 
OT, (including a survey of various scholarly opinions on each book, problems 
of date, authorship, and so forth). The normal result is usually not a coffee- 
table tome. 


In this case, however, Childs has produced a magnum opus which is not 
only readable; it is difficult to put down! While it is not exactly the kind of 
book one will find on a coffee table — not even the dust jacket has the requisite 
photograph — it will be the subject of much discussion (perhaps over coffee) in 
seminary and college lounges. Pastors ought not to neglect it, either. 

One senses in reading this book that Childs was moved to write it more as 
a polemic than as an introduction. A brief review of Childs' personal (in some 
respects, highly personal) approach is helpful in understanding this work. His 
earlier writings, particularly Biblical Theology in Crisis, reflect considerable 
dissatisfaction with the current status of biblical studies. Liberal OT scholars 
were immersed in various attempts to recover the original historical setting of 
the Bible, and fragmentation of the text into even smaller bits and pieces was 
the usual result of the methods — literary, form, redaction, and religions- 
geschichtliche criticism — employed. On the other hand, conservatives con- 
vinced of the integrity of the OT text, generally refused to accept method- 
ology developed by scholars they considered liberal because of the results 
they obtained. So they argued, often unheard, against their conclusions, 
primarily on a priori bases. Thus, they either claimed that the text as we have 
it does reflect accurately the original historical situations with no later 
modifications or reinterpretations, or conversely, ignored the original histori- 
cal context entirely. 

Childs rejects both the liberal and conservative approaches. He is 
convinced particularly that the one major consideration has been neglected in 
modern study, that of canon. For him, the context of all scripture is the 
canon, and the canonical shape is the key to both the meaning and authority 
of scripture. How the scripture, or an individual book, functioned in Judaism 
and/or in Christianity is for Childs the ultimate goal of research and the key 
to its interpretation. It is clear that Childs is dissatisfied with the gap between 
an atomizing liberal exegesis which has impoverished scripture through what 
he considers over-much attention to discovering the original setting and the 
real-life situation of the church today. At least in part, the problem is: how 
can one preach to the concerns of man today when the text is a pastiche of 
layers from different redactions, reuses, and reinterpretations? 

All this is not to say that Childs totally rejects modern liberal method- 
ology. Rather, he argues that it does not lead where the scholars think it 
will, that it is overly concerned with a historicizing methodology, and that it 
really cannot decipher all the layers of tradition and redaction. Rather, one 
should focus on the text as we have it, because it is only in the final form (i.e., 
of a book, or for that matter, the whole OT), that we really have Scripture. 
For Childs, all the constituent forms and collections posited by the scholars 
— oral tradition, collections of sermons, proverbs, or stories, etc. — cannot 
properly be labeled "scripture." It was not until a book had received its 
canonical shape that it had authority, an authority which Childs links to the 
manner in which it spoke to the community where it reached canonical form 
and which cannot be separated from that final form. Thus, no section of a 
book can be said to be authoritative outside of the context of the larger work 
of which it is a part. 


But beyond the issue of authority, which many of his compatriots would 
perhaps concede, Childs firmly believes that the only level of meaning worth 
exerting effort to investigate is that which the text had for the community 
where it reached canonical status. This contrasts sharply with the standard 
liberal methodology which sees multi-faceted levels of meaning corresponding 
to the supposed history of the development of the text. 

An example casts the issues into sharp relief. Since the advent of 
rationalistic higher criticism, most liberals have insisted that the book of 
Isaiah cannot be attributed in its entirety to the Isaiah of the time of 
Hezekiah. At first the book was divided into two and later three (or more) 
parts, with the later sections attributed to an author or authors in the exilic 
period. The result is that in some commentary series different commentators 
are assigned to different sections of the book and their work appears in 
separate volumes (BKAT, etc.), as though separate books are being treated. 

In his introduction to the book of Isaiah, Childs first surveys critical 
scholarship on each section of the book and then turns to an assessment of 
the results of scholarship. To do less than quote Childs would be a disservice: 

Surely it would be a grave misunderstanding to disparage the contribution of 
this enormous effort by generations of critical scholars. . . . The statement can 
hardly be denied that modern research has brought a new philological, historical, 
and literary precision to bear which was unknown in the pre-critical period. . . . 
Nevertheless, from the perspective of the community of faith and practice 
which confesses a special relationship to the Bible, the critical study of Isaiah 
has brought with it a whole new set of problems which have grown in size rather 
than diminished over the years. First of all, critical scholarship has atomized the 
book. ... To speak of the message of the book as a whole has been seriously 
called into question. . . . Since it is no longer possible to determine precisely the 
historical background of large sections of Isaiah, hypotheses increase along with 
the disagreement among the experts (pp. 323-24). 

After expressing his lack of belief in the ultimate value of traditional critical 
scholarship, Childs puts forth his solution; which can only be summarized. 
He argues against the dislocation of Isaiah 40-66 from 1-39. Never mind that 
it (for Childs) once had a separate existence. That independent status is 
irrecoverable and we must deal with the text as we have it. The attachment of 
chaps. 40-66 to the rest of the book is not accidental, but due to serious 
theological reflection which included an attempt to universalize the message 
of these oracles. By placing them with those of 8th-century Isaiah, they are in 
effect removed from their original historical setting and placed in one which 
made the message applicable to more than Isaiah's peers. In other words, 
Childs' argument is that it is precisely because of the minimizing of concrete 
historical situations in the latter part of Isaiah that the book has a function 
beyond its time. It is only really because of this that the synagogue and 
church can use this material. 

The sharp disjunction between Childs and conservatives comes, of 
course, primarily in the area of the source of biblical authority. Conservatives 
find it in God, the ultimate author of scripture; Childs finds it in the 
relationship between text and the ancient community, basically a neo- 
orthodox approach. However, there are some clear points of contact between 


Childs' approach and that of conservatives. One of the major ones is the 
insistence on the primacy of the text as we have it. The extent of the impact 
of this thesis can be seen in his approach to textual criticism: he argues that 
since the canonical shape of a book is primary, the task of textual criticism is 
to recover the text as accepted by the community. Childs identifies this as the 
Masoretic (Received) Text, and hence diminishes the importance of the LXX 
and other versions for OT textual criticism. Of course, the implication of this 
is that one need not be overly concerned about the relationship of the LXX 
to, for instance, the hellenized Jewish community, its use by Christians (and 
the NT), and later anti-Christian Jewish revisions. The problem, then, is to 
determine within which community and at what period the text becomes 
canonized. Here lies one of the major methodological problems with Childs' 

Because of Childs' commitment to the integrity of the text, there is much 
to be appreciated in this book. This reviewer found a number of promising 
insights into the theological messages of individual books, insights which may 
well be valid. Undoubtedly, these come from a keen mind turning to a 
consideration of a whole — not fragmented — text. His treatment of the 
place of Isaiah 36-39, the "historical" section of the book, for instance, is 
quite inviting, since it does weld the book into a theological unity, a rarity • 

There are also some cautions to be noted. The most significant one 
relates to an area discussed above, that of authority. Childs is no evangelical, 
and he does not find the scripture's authority in a divine source. Because he 
wants to find contemporary usefulness for scripture, he interprets it for the 
community of faith. The problem is that this detaches the meaning of the text 
from its historical moorings. Of course, conservatives have been guilty of this 
as well, either ignorantly or intentionally, when texts have been transported 
bodily from their historical and cultural settings to support a 20th-century 
dogma, without concern for their original intention. The proper method 
recognizes and understands the text in its original context before attempting 
to extrapolate meaning for the modern world. But it does not see a dis- 
junction between the original meaning and its application today, or for that 
matter, between the meaning of a given text in OT times and its use and 
meaning in NT times, as does Childs. There is no difference for the evan- 
gelical between the "Old Testament" and "Scripture"; here, the phrase "the 
Old Testament as Scripture" is a tautology. 

This is not to deny the value of the book. It is certainly the most 
interesting introduction to appear in perhaps the last hundred years. One 
need not agree with it to state that it is a stimulating, useful, and insightful 
work. Theological students and pastors alike will benefit from contact with 
the thesis of the book, as well as many individual suggestions. Even if no 
other reason exists for buying the book, excellent, current bibliographies at 
the beginning of each chapter are worth the price of the book, especially since 
they recognize the contributions of American scholarship, something lacking 
in the typical continental introductions. 

Two physical characteristics detract from the overall impression. The 
price ($28.50) is exorbitant for a book slightly under 700 pages. Second, the 
binding is such that the book will not lie open on the desk, requiring the use 


of empty coffee mugs or the like (on both pages!) to hold it open; this is more 
than a small inconvenience, and it is hoped that the publisher will abandon 
this type of binding. 

James E. Eisenbraun 

The Status of Women in the Middle Assyrian Period, by Claudio Saporetti. 
Monographs on the Ancient Near East 2/1. Trans, by Beatrice Boltze- 
Jordan. Malibu, CA: Undena, 1979. Pp. 20. N.P. 

This little monograph is an extremely well-written study of the position 
of women in the Middle Assyrian period in Assyria. The author's analysis of 
the texts is convincing and cautious. The picture drawn for the modern 
reader is that the Assyrian woman lived in a repressive (by modern standards) 
society. She appears to have had no choice in her marriage; indeed, love 
played no part in the making of a marriage. The position of the father was 
dominant in all affairs, economic and otherwise (until her marriage). The 
only economic protection for the bride was the terhatu, which was a wedding 
gift (commonly of tin, silver, or gold) from the father of the bride. It 
remained the possession of the bride should her husband divorce her. Apart 
from this it was nearly impossible for a woman to own anything. Only if her 
husband, any sons over ten years of age, her husband's brothers, her 
husband's father, or her own father had all died could she then own anything 
except the terfjatu (which was commonly held in trust by her father). This 
certainly adds emphasis to the Jacob/ Laban stories where Laban had con- 
sumed the purchase price of his daughters (Gen 31:15). Even by the standards 
of Middle Assyrian practices, the crime is one of truly great proportions. 

Another interesting feature is that judicially the woman was under the 
domain of her husband. He had the right to fix penalty as well as determine 
what was an offense. Social and economic stratification was the by-word for 
ancient society. For example, there were several levels of status among 
women (free woman, widow, concubine, etc.). On the other hand, the status 
of women vis a vis men is often unequal. If, for example, a wife commits 
adultery, both she and her lover are to be executed (actually, it was up to the 
husband to determine penalty). However, an adulterous man is guilty only if 
he is aware that he is lying with a married woman. This has the effect of 
making the adulterous husband beyond guilt regarding his own wife. 

Somewhat surprising is the observation that bigamy "was allowed only 
under special conditions, clearly defined by the laws." In this respect, Middle 
Assyrian culture seems to differ with that reflected in Genesis, where polyg- 
amy appears to be the norm. 

The results of this monograph demonstrate in the main that Middle 
Assyrian social practice regarding the status of women does not compare well 
with that of the Bible. The legislation in Num 27:1-11 and 36:1-4 contrasts 
dramatically with that of Middle Assyria. In Israel, if a man died without a 
son as heir, landed properties were passed into the possession of the daugh- 
ters of the marriage. If there were no daughters, the land diverted to the 
brother of the deceased; without a brother, the land went to his father's 


brothers; without brothers, the land went to the nearest relative. This 
hierarchy totally reverses that of Middle Assyrian practices. 

In general, then, it is clear that the social customs reflected in the Bible 
relate better to the Old Babylonian period (especially those of Genesis). On 
the other hand, this monograph offers many instructive points of comparison 
and could be recommended for anyone interested in the social world of the 

Donald L. Fowler 

The Identity of the New Testament Text, by Wilbur N. Pickering. Nashville: 
Thomas Nelson, 1977. Pp. 191 $7.95. 

Here is the first book-length polemic against the current text-critical 
methodology and defense of the Byzantine Text since Edward F. Hills' The 
King James Version Defended (Christian Research, 1956) that deserves 
serious consideration by biblical scholarship, despite the disclaimer of Gor- 
don D. Fee {WTJ 41 [1979] 397-423). Another excellent work that is also 
available is H. A. Sturz's The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament 
Textual Criticism (second syllabus edition; La Mirada, CA: Biola College 
Bookstore, 1972), although Sturz holds a more mediating position than does 
Pickering. As Pickering's title suggests, he is more concerned with past and 
current methodologies used in identifying the best Greek text of the NT 
rather than with a defense of the KJV translation per se. In this respect it is a 
better work than Hills' and from the standpoint of scholarship, it rises far 
above the several publications of the more fanatical coterie of KJV defenders. 

Wilbur N. Pickering received the Th.M. degree from Dallas Theological 
Seminary in 1968 and is currently a candidate for the Ph.D. degree in 
linguistics at the University of Toronto. He has served as a Bible Translator 
and a translation consultant with Wycliffe Bible translators in Brazil, where 
he presently resides. 

At least two previous noteworthy reviews of The Identity of the New 
Testament Text have already appeared — both by eminent Bible scholars, 
one favorable and the other definitely unfavorable. John W. Wenham (EQ 
51 [1979] 50-51) unabashedly registers shock at Pickering's disclosures which 
indict the bankrupt Westcott-Hort theory and methodology still essentially 
used (although suspiciously and with modifications) by textual critics today. 
Wenham writes: 

This is a shocking book — at least it delivered a shock to my system. It is not 
often that one reads a book which re-orientates one's whole approach to a 
subject, but that is what this has done for me. It is a frontal attack upon the 
Westcott and Hort theory of the N.T. Text, the general soundness of which I 
had accepted without question for forty years [italics mine]. Two or three years 
ago I had the first tricklings of doubt about it; then I chanced to read George 
Salmon's Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the N.T. (1897), which 
increased the trickle to a stream; now with this book it has become a flood. . . . 
This is not an academic matter, for it affects the wording of the hundreds of 


millions of scriptures which we are distributing across the globe. It is shocking 
to think that we may have been giving the world a bad text. 

In contrast, the second review (by Gordon D. Fee) was quite negative. 
Fee, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and an esteemed 
textual critic, believes that the book "offers no serious challenge to textual 
studies." Fee's critique (WTJ 41 [1979] 397-423) is quite helpful and should 
be read along with Pickering's work. 

Fee's reaction was to be expected. Almost all qualified textual critics 
(those who work constantly in the discipline), except Zane Hodges (Dallas 
Theological Seminary) and very few others, are so convinced (as a presup- 
position^ of the secondary importance of the Byzantine text-type (?) that 
they will not countenance any possibility of an essentially faulty methodology 
being employed in the science of biblical textual criticism today. 

Qualified textual critics are extremely rare, and orthodox, conservative 
textual critics are rarer still. Consequently, textual critics often pontificate 
from ivory towers and the majority of Bible scholars, both liberal and 
conservative, by virtue of their own inexpertness in the science, are at the 
mercy of the critics' opinions. For this reason the Westcott-Hort theory and 
methodology have been accepted by most theologians. We might well be the 
worse for it. 

Pickering has dared to challenge the status quo in textual criticism on its 
own grounds. He begins by assaulting the current "eclectic" method of NT 
textual criticism and its almost fanatic devotion to internal rather than 
external evidence which he regards as the major controlling factor on the 
textual scene today. The eclecticism which alarms Pickering is that which is 
essentially reduced to two rules: (1) Choose the reading that best fits the 
context; (2) choose the reading which best explains the other readings. In 
essence, these two principles are F. J. A. Hort's Intrinsic Probability and 
Transcriptional Probability principles respectively. Even those who employ 
such methodology acknowledge its subjectivity, which renders it highly 

Most textual critics use this method today, even though they are wary of 
it. Pickering is particularly concerned (as is Fee) with the extravagances of 
G. D. Kilpatrick and J. K. Elliott, both thorough-going eclecticists, which 
are finding expression in such publications as A Greek-English Diglotfor the 
Use of Translators issued by the British and Foreign Bible Societies (p. 23). 

The genius of Pickering's approach is that he allows textual critics 
themselves to criticize their own methodology by citing the suspicions of such 
notables as Eldon Jay Epp, E. C. Colwell, Bruce Metzger, K. W. Clark, A. F. 
J. Klijn, F. G. Kenyon, Gunther Zuntz, and many others. Little wonder over 
the shock of Wenham! It should be noted that Fee is mistaken when he 
accuses Pickering of serious distortion by lumping Metzger, Epp, and Colwell 
together with Kilpatrick and Elliott. In fairness, Pickering does not lump 
them together but clearly delineates the distinction between their various 
degrees of eclecticism. 

Much of this book is concerned with a detailed evaluation of the 
Westcott-Hort critical theory and, whether one agrees with Pickering or not, 
this in itself makes the book of great value to interested students who never 


advanced beyond J. Harold Greenlee's very fine primer, Introduction to New 
Testament Textual Criticism (Eerdmans, 1964). 

The reader will be surprised to learn that the two most famous MSS, 
Codex B and Codex 8 (both regarded as our best uncial witnesses by textual 
critics), differ with each other well over 3,000 times in the Gospels alone (p. 
51)! Again, it is small wonder that Pickering questions the certainty of our 
current critical texts. 

Pickering challenges every major premise of the Westcott-Hort theory 
and attempts to debunk each one. First, Hort contended that the NT should 
be treated like any other piece of ancient literature and assumed (naively) that 
there were "no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic 
purposes" (pp. 32, 41). Pickering appeals to Metzger, Colwell, Matthew 
Black, and H. H. Oliver to demonstrate that the majority of the variant 
readings in the NT were created for theological and dogmatic reasons (pp. 41- 
43). It should be noted, however, that none of these modern textual critics 
cites "falsification" or "malice" as the motivation behind variant readings. 
Pickering is forced to appeal to late (3-4th century a.d.) church fathers for 
this detail. Fee's lengthy discussion {op. cit., pp. 405-15) of this whole issue, 
which contravenes Pickering, is excellent and should be read along with 
Pickering's section. 

Second, Pickering demonstrates (conclusively to this reviewer) that 
Westcott and Hort never applied, as Hort claims, the genealogical method to 
NT MSS. Again, appeal is made to Colwell, who claimed that a method not 
used, or even capable of being used, actually "slew" the Textus Receptus. 
Hort's integrity, in view of this colossal falsehood, is very much in question. 

Third, Pickering seriously questions whether or not "text-types" can even 
be distinguished and cites Parvis, Wikgren, Colwell, Zuntz, Klijn, and 
Hoskier, who all agree that the reconstruction of text-types of any kind is 
extremely doubtful. Evidently, modern classifications into text-types and 
families are more imaginative than real. One wonders why eighty percent of 
our MSS should be categorized into a family (Byzantine) that is regarded as 
inferior when the whole process of categorization is in doubt. 

Fourth, Hort's claim against the Textus Receptus of conflate readings to 
prove its lateness and inferiority is thoroughly repudiated. Once again, 
Colwell, who refers to this as Hort's "Achilles heel," is summoned to back up 
Pickering's argument (p. 58). 

Fifth, Hort's denial of the existence of "Syrian" (Byzantine) readings 
prior to Chrysostom is essentially demolished (pp. 62-77). Of interest to every 
student at this point in the argument will be the appeal to the monumental 
work of Edward Miller, posthumous editor to Dean Burgon, which has never 
really been answered. Miller amassed a staggering 86,489 patristic citations to 
prove the presence of readings of the Traditional Text in the writings of the 
Ante-Nicene Fathers. Miller demonstrated that the Ante-Nicene Fathers 
sided with the Traditional Text over Hort's "Neutral" and "Western" texts by 
a ratio of 2:1 and never dropped below an advantage ratio of 1.24:1 at any 
time. The noted F. G. Kenyon was never able to controvert Miller's findings. 

Sixth, Pickering seriously challenges Hort's Intrinsic Probability theory 
(= shorter reading is the best reading) and his Transcriptional Probability 


theory (= the more difficult reading is the best reading). B. H. Streeter, Leo 
Vaganay, and Kilpatrick all question Hort's two canons, and A. C. Clark 
apparently demonstrated that they could not be applied even to the classics 
(pp. 80-81). Fee (op. cit., p. 409) places the burden back upon Pickering to 
advance better canons, based upon acceptable historical investigation, if 
Hort's canons are to be set aside. 

Finally, Hort's Lucianic Recension theory is demolished under the 
testimony of Kenyon, Colwell, F. C. Grant, and Jacob Geerlings (pp. 88-89). 

Pickering devotes Chapter 5 to his own theory of textual transmission. 
He sees the Majority Text "dominating the stream of transmission with a few 
individual witnesses going their idiosyncratic ways." This is a possibility 
which at least ought to be given a fair day in court by textual critics. It seems 
obvious that the present methodology has led to a dead-end as far as any 
ultimate certainty of the text is concerned. (Fee finds a real problem with 
Pickering's theory of transmission and essentially charges it to naivete). 

Strangely, Pickering's shortest chapter actually deals with identifying the 
text of the NT (chap. 7). Here he appeals to Burgon's seven "Notes of Truth" 
with slight modifications. His seven principles for determining the identity of 
the NT text are: (1) antiquity, because a serious candidate for an original 
reading should be old, perhaps earlier than a.d. 400; (2) consent of witnesses, 
because a serious candidate for an original reading should be attested by a 
majority of independent witnesses; (3) variety of evidence, because a serious 
candidate for an original reading should be attested to by a wide variety of 
readings; (4) continuity, because a serious candidate for an original reading 
should be attested to throughout the ages of transmission, from beginning to 
end; (5) respectability of witnesses, because any serious candidate for a 
witness to the original should have a high credibility factor (Hoskier has 
demonstrated the low respectability quotient of B and N); (6) evidence of the 
entire passage being set within a context of proven credibility; and (7) 
internal consideration, because a serious candidate for an original reading 
should reflect grammatical, logical, geographical, and scientific reasonable- 
ness. Pickering rightly wonders why these canons of truth have not been 
followed more closely in the science of textual criticism. 

No doubt the book has flaws which a qualified textual critic (such as 
Fee) might detect. Pickering seems somewhat contradictory in his theory of 
transmission, at one time defending an essential purity of transmission 
(pp. lOOff.) and at another time asserting much intentional corruption 
(pp. 41-42). Again, as mentioned previously, Gordon Fee's full critique of 
this book should be read along with the book so that the more technical 
issues can be viewed from two persepectives. 

Whatever its weaknesses, the book presents an excellent refutation of an 
almost blind acceptance of current text-critical methodologies and opinions 
which still fall somewhere within the framework of the bankrupt Westcott- 
Hort theory. Every serious student of the Greek NT should be fully aware of 
every fact and opinion expressed in this work. Pickering is to be commended, 
whether or not one agrees with him. 

Perhaps the day will come when capable textual critics (especially among 
orthodox scholars) finally, after 100 years, will give full consideration to a 


total overhaul of current methodology and give the Majority Text its rightful 
place in the science. 

John A. Sproule 

The Celtic World, by Barry Cunliffe. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979. Pp. 
224. $39.95. 

This spectacular volume is a joy to read. While it belongs to that genre 
known as "coffee table" books, it is certainly more than just another pretty 
face. Cunliffe is a fine classical scholar, a fact which has made this synthesis 
valuable rather than superfluous. The question can rightly be asked on nearly 
any subject today, "What! Not another book on . . . !" While no new ground 
is broken here, its reason for existence has, I think, been established in its 
contents. One may note that this is not just a history of the Celts; rather, it 
gives a lucid discussion (without scholarly jargon) on every facet of Celtic life. 
One of its most attractive features to the reviewer is that it provides a 
generous measure of maps which simplify the complex ethnography of Celtic 
history for the non-specialist. The result is a cartography that is highly usable 
for all. Like most "glossies," the photographs are attractive, often stunningly 
beautiful (although the photograph on p. 105 is blurred), and well-chosen. 
The book is nearly free from error although "Urartu" on p. 19 is misspelled. 

Because of the importance of the Celts for NT history and backgrounds 
as well as their interaction with the expanding church, the present volume is a 
welcome addition for those interested in expanding their horizons. Unfortu- 
nately, the price will probably discourage many from acquiring the text. 

Donald L. Fowler 

Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?, by Walter Chantry. Edinburgh/ 
Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970. Pp 93. 45p [$1.00]. Paper. 

Provocative, stimulating, and in many ways, very convicting, this volume 
can be easily read and mentally evaluated during one brief sitting. It is a must 
for all pastors and evangelists. Chantry's burden could help many earnest 
laborers bring their evangelistic message and method into closer conformity 
with the Word of God. 

In his introduction, Chantry perceptively surveys the contemporary 
situation. He exposes two essential deviations from scriptural standards: 
1) the current trend of compromising or minimizing the Truth for the sake of 
organizational unity (pp. 10-12), and 2) the phenomenon of widespread 
accommodations to an unbiblical "neo-traditionalism" (pp. 12-18). At the 
outset, it is comforting to note that the author's remarks are based upon a 
system of apologetics which is thoroughly biblical. 

The six chapters which constitute the core of his argument take as their 
point of departure exhortations from portions of Mark 10:17-27. Based upon 
Jesus' illustrative dealings with the rich young ruler, Chantry outlines a 
biblical methodology for evangelism. 


Stress is placed upon an approach which is essentially theocentric rather 
than anthropocentric (chaps. 1-2, pp. 19-46). Repentance is duly emphasized 
(pp. 47-56) along with some valuable considerations in reference to the 
lordship of Christ (pp. 57-66). Amid these discussions, Chantry challenges 
unjustifiable presentations of a carnal Christian scapegoat mechanism (cf. 
pp. 54-55). He also blisters the easy believism approach to evangelism (cf. 
pp. 64-66). 

Such vital discussions naturally lead into a challenge of current proce- 
dures which coerce recipients into accepting a one-sided or distorted assur- 
ance of their salvation (pp. 67-77). Concerning the efforts of a significant 
number of earnest witnesses, Chantry observes that "so many Christian 
workers feel compelled to do the Holy Spirit's work of giving assurance in 
their evangelism!" (p. 67). 

Chapter 6, "Preaching With Dependence Upon God," is crucial. This is 
so because of the greatest obstacle facing all ministers of reconciliation — 
total depravity. Chantry offers a commendable survey of this essential doc- 
trine as it applies to the presentation of the gospel (pp. 81-89); however, being 
undoubtedly committed to a specific ordo salutis, his comments sometimes 
venture beyond the biblical data (cf. p. 84). 

This reviewer finds no better concluding exhortation than that which has 
already issued from Chantry's burdened heart; "Rise above deadening evan- 
gelical tradition and 'earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered 
unto the saints' [Jude 3]" (p. 92). 

George J. Zemek, Jr. 

The Bible in the Balance, by Harold Lindsell. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1979. Pp. 384. $9.95. 

Here is a book that tells it exactly like it is! The author is a Southern 
Baptist who has served as vice-president and professor at Fuller Theological 
Seminary in Pasadena and as professor at Columbia Bible College in 
Columbia, SC, and at Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago. In addition, he 
is the editor of the Harper Study Bible and editor emeritus of Christianity 
Today. With these credentials, no one can hang an "ultra-fundamentalist" 
label on Dr. Lindsell. He was the right man to author this book and its 
bombshell predecessor, The Battle for the Bible (Zondervan, 1976). 

As its title suggests, this book is an extension of The Battle for the Bible 
and continues to sound the alarm, and rightly so, to evangelicals in America 
concerning the integrity of the Bible. The author states the purpose of this 
follow-up book in these words: "I wish to address myself to the objections 
raised by those who disagree with me. . . . Moreover, I wish to add to the 
case I presented in the first book, so that even the most obdurate will have to 
admit there is a problem with noninerrancy in regard to the trustworthiness 
of Scripture, not only in matters having to do with history, science, and the 
cosmos, but also as to theological matters having to do with faith and 
practice, both directly and indirectly" (p. 20). Dr. Lindsell has achieved his 
purpose admirably. 


The author fully understands that biblical inerrancy, in its absolute sense 
and as understood by inerrantists, pertains to the autographa of Scripture 
and not to the voluminous extant materials from which edited texts are 
produced and into which scribal errors have crept. Yet, because of the 
numerous extant copies and the science of textual criticism, we can say that 
the Bible which we have today is indeed the written Word of God and is 
entirely trustworthy, not only in matters of faith and practice, but in all other 
matters as well including history, science, and creation. 

The book, of necessity, names some of the leading opponents of iner- 
rancy within so-called "evangelicalism." The author's documentation for his 
charges is impeccable. The list reads almost like a "Who's Who" of inter- 
nationally known denominational leaders, scholars, and pastors and, while 
focusing primarily on the leadership of Southern Baptist institutions and 
Fuller Theological Seminary, it extends even to the smaller denominations 
and parachurch groups. The book demonstrates conclusively that these 
individuals have departed from the historic doctrinal stances of their denom- 
inations and institutions in the matter of the inerrancy and complete trust- 
worthiness of the Scriptures. The evidence against them is mountainous. 
They have no case. 

The author goes further and challenges the "pious" claim that since 
battles over doctrine divide the church they should not be fought (p. 91). His 
answer is that doctrine always divides. Should we therefore abandon doc- 
trine? Lindsell insists that the real question is not whether doctrine divides 
but whether our doctrines are true or false. If inerrancy is true then the 
problem of church division rests squarely upon the shoulders of the opponents 
of inerrancy, not its advocates. Throughout the book Lindsell rightly chal- 
lenges the integrity of pastors, scholars, and church leaders who sign doc- 
trinal statements with "tongue-in-cheek" attitudes. His challenge is based 
solidly upon Christian ethics and his point is well made. 

That errantists cannot handle the miracle of "dual authorship" in the 
doctrine of verbal, plenary inspiration is also made patent in this book (pp. 
149ff.). To errantists, any human involvement demands human error. This, of 
course, overlooks the divine superintendence of the Holy Spirit in the 
inspiration of Scripture. Errantists seem shut up to either a completely 
human book with errors or to a purely "mechanical dictation" view of 
inspiration which neither they nor most inerrantists can accept. 

The underlying cause of so many departures from a belief in the 
inerrancy of Scripture is seen by the author in the subtle inroads into 
evangelical seminaries of various shades of the "historical-critical" method of 
exegeting and interpreting Scripture. Lindsell traces this methodology his- 
torically to the Renaissance and, particularly, to Johann Salomo Semler (an 
18th-century, German rationalistic theologian). This methodology insists on a 
purely historical-philological interpretation of the Bible, which presupposes 
the Bible to be a purely human book and denies God's supernatural activity 
in history. Lindsell believes that many evangelical scholars use this negative 
methodology, either consciously or unconsciously, with evangelical pre- 
suppositions, under the illusion of being accepted by liberal theological 
academia or, perhaps, to win liberals over to the evangelical viewpoint (p. 
283). The end, of course, is disaster to both evangelicalism and inerrancy, and 


the process (the historical-critical method) inescapably eventuates in an 
impossible obligation to find the "canon within the canon" (pp. 288-90) and 
in a mentality that resorts to "cultural relativity" in the matter of ethics by 
refusing to accept biblical ethical norms for today. 

Lindsell also wrestles with the problem of labels. Who can really be 
called an "evangelical" today? He ultimately concludes that the doctrine of 
inerrancy is inextricably linked to the person of Jesus Christ and that a denial 
of inerrancy is a denial of the lordship of Christ which consequently 
disqualifies one from being an evangelical. This reviewer agrees. However, is 
the label "evangelical" still serviceable? Lindsell doubts that it is and suggests 
the possibility of going back to either the label "fundamentalist" (with all of 
its pejoratives) or "Orthodox Protestant" as a description of those who hold 
to inerrancy along with the other cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. 

What does Lindsell see for the future regarding orthodox, conservative 
denominations and institutions? While commending the stand taken by the 
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod under the leadership of J. A. O. Preus to 
reverse the errantist cancer in that synod, Lindsell does not present a bright 
prospect for the church and its institutions in general. He knows full well, as 
he repeatedly affirms, that a denial of inerrancy in matters of history, science, 
and the cosmos ultimately leads (as he proves in his book) to a denial of 
matters of faith and practice also. It is only a question of time. But Lindsell, 
like most inerrantists, leaves the matter ultimately in the hands of our 
sovereign God. In the meantime, the battle goes on. Lindsell, like many 
before him who were laughed "out of court," has sounded the alarm. 
Whether or not evangelical churches will awaken from their crippling slum- 
ber is another matter. 

Apart from several printing errors in the book, especially the confusion 
on pp. 319-21, this reviewer finds little to fault in this book. Although being 
rabidly criticized by many for The Battle for the Bible and its telling 
exposures, Dr., Lindsell has retained an irenic spirit in the writing of this 
sequel and he supplies cogent answers to his opponents. The evidence is 
incontrovertible. From the human perspective, the Bible is indeed in the 

This book needs to be read by every serious Christian who can read the 
English language. It is of special importance to every person who honestly 
desires to know what is really going on in the respective denominations. 

John A. Sproule 

Armageddon Now: The Premillenarian Response to Russia and Israel Since 
1917, by Dwight Wilson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977. Pp. 258. $4.95. Paper. 

As a middle-aged man, many of the antics of my youth are remembered 
with a bit of embarrassment. This book, likewise, reminds the chiliastic world 
of its heritage in that it brings to light the youthful excesses of the premil- 
lennial past (unfortunately, there are many who still choose to frolic). In 
effect, the author has surveyed the life of the entire written corpus of the 
premillennialist community for the last century. The embarrassments are 
acute, alleviated only by the knowledge that the myriad of quotation in this 
volume represents only the unfortunate in the life of that movement. 


In the main, it would be difficult to disagree with the contents of the 
volume since it is primarily composed of extensive quotations from past 
premillennial sages. In this respect, the book is a blessing for which I had 
frankly been seeking. Having taught for several years a course on Bible 
Prophecy, I lamented the need of a volume which might show us the blight of 
past excesses. In fact, I had sent my students into the same journals from 
which Wilson quotes so extensively. The book, however, has admirably met 
that need. 

Wilson frequently scores premillennialists over their uncritical support of 
the Jewish State while failing to deal fairly with the issue of displaced Arabs. 
He is often convincing in this endeavor. On the other hand, the polemical 
tone of the book will certainly limit its usage among the very audience for 
which it was intended. For example, Wilson, commonly accuses premillen- 
nialists of "determinism." Not many will agree with him when he polemicizes, 
"The response to Jews and Israel has demonstrated that the premillenarians 
are guilty of the charge of determinism even to the extent of heretical 
antinomianism" (p. 217). Such rhetoric is not likely to convince an opponent, 
although it is likely to please one's supporters. 

Wilson roundly condemns premillennialists for anti-Semitism through- 
out the book. "For the premillenarian, the massacre of Jewry expedited his 
blessed hope" (p. 95). This seems to be a rather striking example of 
argumentum ad hominem. It is doubtful in the extreme that anyone outside 
the higher echelons of Nazism had any knowledge that the Jews were being 
massacred in World War II. Indeed, the Jews themselves refused to believe 
the horror stories. Furthermore, a general accusation of lack of compassion 
after the fact was publicized can hardly be leveled against any group on earth 
(with the exception of the Soviets and the Ku Klux Klan). Nevertheless, it 
should be readily admitted that the thinking of many premillennialists 
concerning the Jews is often contradictory. 

Another example of muddled reasoning can be seen in his discussion of 
the premillennialist attitude towards Russia. On p. 107, he recognizes that 
antipathy towards Russia related in part to its atheism and persecution of the 
church. Yet, he insists that "most of it centered, as before, upon the prophetic 
character of Russia herself. . . ." On the next page, however, he states that 
"the atheism was not just an aspect of premillenarian criticism — it was 
central." Furthermore, it would seem to be difficult to explain why the entire 
church (quite apart from the premillennial stance) has also generated such 
antipathy towards Russia. On the contrary, the real issue for most premillen- 
nialists is Communism and its persecution of the church. Lastly, Wilson 
should have made an attempt to point out that not all premillennialists are 
guilty of these excesses. Indeed, one wonders how a post-tribulationalist 
could be guilty of many of his criticisms since to them the fate of the church 
and Jewry is identical. 

Despite these comments, I would not hesitate to use and recommend the 
book. Indeed, were I a pastor, I would encourage my entire congregation to 
read it. Thanks are to be rendered to the author for his service in chronicling 
the excesses of our embarrassing past. 

Donald L. Fowler 



Messianism in the Talmudic Era, ed. by Leo Landman. New York: KTAV 
Publishing House, Inc., 1979. 

I. The Origin of the Jewish Messianic Belief — Hugo Gressmann, "The 
Sources of Israel's Messianic Hope" (pp. 3-24); J. Klausner, "The Source and 
Beginnings of the Messianic Idea" (pp. 25-37); N. Schmidt, "The Origin of 
Jewish Eschatology" (pp. 38-50); G. Scholem, "The Messianic Idea in Juda- 
ism" (pp. 51-74); H. P. Smith, "The Origin of the Messianic Hope in Israel" 
(pp. 75-98); S. Zeitlin, "The Origin of the Idea of the Messiah" (pp. 99-114). 

II. Natural and Supernatural Messianism — J. Drummond, "Concep- 
tion of the Ideal Kingdom Without a Messiah" (pp. 115-62); I. Heinemann, 
"Messianismus und Mysterienreligion"(pp. 163-81); A. J. B. Higgins, "Jewish 
Messianic Belief in Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho" (pp. 182-89); J. 
Klausner, "Allusions to the Messianic Idea in the Pentateuch and Former 
Prophets" (pp. 190-99); J. Klausner, "Daniel" (pp. 200-14); J. Klausner, "The 
Name and Personality of the Messiah" (pp. 215-28). 

III. The Jewish and Christian Doctrine of the Messiah — W. D. Davies, 
"The Rabbinical Sources" (pp. 229-63); Marnius De Jonge, "Jewish Expecta- 
tions about the 'Messiah' According to the Fourth Gospel" (pp. 264-88); J. 
Klausner, "The Jewish and Christian Messiah" (pp. 289-301); H. Kosmala, 
"At the End of the Days" (pp. 302-12); N. Schmidt, "Recent Study of the 
Term 'Son of Man'" (pp. 313-38). 

IV. The Two Messiahs — J. Heinemann, "The Messiah of Ephraim and 
the Premature Exodus of the Tribe of Ephraim" (pp. 339-53); J. Liver, "The 
Doctrine of the Two Messiahs in Sectarian Literature in the Time of the 
Second Commonwealth" (pp. 354-92). 

V. Messianic Phenomena — M. Ber, "Mashehu al R. Judah Ahave d'R. 
Sella Hasida" (pp. 393-96); J. Neusner, "Power" (pp. 397-424); A. H. Silver, 
"The Five Methods" (pp. 425-41); M. Waxman, "Heblei Mashiah" (pp. 442- 
44); M. Waxman, "Hidush ha-Olam" (pp. 445-50); M. Waxman, "Messianic 
Days and the War of Gog and Magog" (pp. 451-57); S. Zeitlin, "The 
Assumption of Moses and the Revolt of Bar Kokhba" (pp. 458-502); S. 
Zeitlin, "The Essenes and Messianic Expectations" (pp. 503-14). 

The New Life: Readings in Christian Theology, ed. by Millard J. Erickson. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. 

Part 1, The New Life In Individual Experience — The Giver: Geoffrey 
W. Bromiley, "The Holy Spirit" (pp. 21-42). The Plan: Loraine Boettner, 
"Unconditional Election" (pp. 43-52); Henry Thiessen, "Election and Voca- 
tion" (pp. 53-60). The Beginning: George W. Peters, "The Meaning of 
Conversion" (pp. 61-68); John Murray, "Faith and Repentance" (pp. 69-76); 
William Hordern, "Faith and Reason" (pp. 77-94); Edward Carnell, "Faith" 
(pp. 95-102); John L. Nuelsen, "Regeneration" (pp. 103-14); Franz Peiper, 


"The Means of Grace" (pp. 115-26); Martin Luther, "Galatians 3:13" (pp. 
127-38); Albrecht Ritschl, "The General Relations of Justification" (pp. 139- 
58). The Continuation and Completion: John Wesley, "A Plain Account of 
Christian Perfection" (pp. 159-68); Herman Bavinck, "Sanctification" (pp. 
169-98); Bernard Ramm, "The Glorification of the Soul" (pp. 199-220); 
Thomas Summers, "The Dogma of Inamissible Grace Refuted" (pp. 221-38); 
G. C. Berkouwer, "The Reality of Perseverance" (pp. 239-52). 

Part Two, The New Life in Collective Expression — The Identity and 
Role of the Church: Edmund Clowney, "Toward a Biblical Doctrine of the 
Church" (pp. 257-92); Langdon Gilkey, "The Church as the Body of Christ" 
(pp. 293-310). The Nature of the Church: Leon Morris, "Nature and Govern- 
ment of the Church (Episcopalian View)" (pp. 311-16); Louis Berkhof, "The 
Government of the Church" (pp. 317-30); Edward Hiscox, "Church Govern- 
ment" (pp. 331-40). Church Cooperation: Carl Henry, "The Perils of Inde- 
pendency" (pp. 341-48); Carl Henry, "The Perils of Ecumenicity" (pp. 349- 
54). The Special Rites of the Church: Paul Jewett, "Baptism (Baptist View)" 
(pp. 355-66); Y. Feenstra, "Baptism (Reformed View)"'(pp. 367-82); Joseph 
Pohel, "Eucharist" (pp. 383-402); William Stevens, "The Lord's Supper" (pp. 

Part Three, The New Life in Future Extension — The General Nature of 
Eschatology: James O. Buswell, "What is Eschatology?" (pp. 419-28); C. H. 
Dodd, "Eschatology and History" (pp. 429-34); Rudolf Bultmann, "The 
Interpretation of Mythological Eschatology" (pp. 435-42). The Intermediate 
State: William G. T. Shedd, "Intermediate State" (pp. 443-62); W. D. Davies, 
"The Old and New Hope: Resurrection" (pp. 463-72). The Second Coming: 
E. Y. Mullins, "Last Things" (pp. 473-82); Harry Emerson Fosdick, "Abiding 
Experiences and Changing Categories" (pp. 483-90). Heaven and Hell: 
L. Harold DeWolf, "The Last Judgment" (pp. 491-94); C. S. Lewis, "Hell" 
(pp. 495-99); C. S. Lewis, "Heaven" (pp. 500-506). The Millennium and the 
Tribulation: Loraine Boettner, "Christian Hope and a Millennium" (pp. 507- 
10); W. J. Grier, "Christian Hope and the Millennium" (pp. 511-14); George 
Eldon Ladd, "The Revelation of Christ's Glory" (pp. 515-18); John F. 
Walvoord, "Dispensational Premillennialism" (pp. 519-24). 

Biblical Essays, by J. B. Lightfoot. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979. 

Internal Evidence for the Authenticity and Genuineness of St. John's 
Gospel (pp. 1-44); External Evidence for the Authenticity and Genuineness of 
St. John's Gospel (pp. 45-122); Internal Evidence for the Authenticity and 
Genuineness of St. John's Gospel (pp. 123-93) (Additional Notes, pp. 194- 
98); St. Paul's Preparation for the Ministry (pp. 199-211); The Chronology of 
St. Paul's Life and Epistles (pp. 213-33); The Churches of Macedonia (pp. 
235-50); The Church of Thessalonica (pp. 251-69); The Mission of Titus to 
the Corinthians (pp. 271-84); The Structure and Destination of the Epistle to 
the Romans (pp. 285-86); M. Renan's Theory of the Epistle to the Romans 
(pp. 287-320); On the End of the Epistle to the Romans (pp. 321-51); The 


Epistle to the Romans (pp. 352-73); The Destination of the Epistle to the 
Ephesians (pp. 375-96); The Date of the Pastoral Epistles (pp. 397-410) 
(Additional Note, pp. 411-18); St. Paul's History After the Close of the Acts 
(pp. 419-37); Indices (pp. 439-59). 

Collected Writings of John Murray: Vol I. The Claims of Truth, by John 
Murray. Philadelphia, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976. 

The Holy Scriptures — "The Study of the Bible" (pp. 3-8); "The 
Infallibility of Scripture" (pp. 9-15); "The Finality and Sufficiency of Scrip- 
ture" (pp. 16-22); "The Unity of the Old and New Testaments" (pp. 23-26). 

Jesus Christ — "The Redeemer of God's Elect" (pp. 29-35); "The Death 
of Christ" (pp. 36-39); "The Living Saviour" (pp. 40-43); "The Heavenly, 
Priestly, Activity of Christ" (pp. 44-58); "The Atonement and the Free Offer 
of the Gospel" (pp. 59-85); "The Advent of Christ" (pp. 86-95). 

Westminster Theological Seminary and Its Testimony — "The Banner of 
Westminster Seminary" (pp. 99-103); "Greeting to Entering Students, 1944" 
(pp. 104-6); "Charge to Edmund P. Clowney" (pp. 107-9); "Edward J. 
Young: An Appreciation" (pp. 113-15). 

The Gospel And Its Proclamation — "The Grace of God" (pp. 1 19-23); 
"The Message of Evangelism" (pp. 124-34); "The Propagation of the Reformed 
Faith in New England" (pp. 135-37); "The Power of the Holy Spirit" (pp. 138- 
42); "Some Necessary Emphases in Preaching" (pp. 143-51); "Co-operation in 
Evangelism" (pp. 152-62). 

The Christian Life — "Worship" (pp. 165-68); "Christian Doctrine and 
Life" (pp. 169-73); "The Christian Ethic" (pp. 174-81); "Adoring the Gospel" 
(pp. 182-85); "The Guidance of the Holy Spirit" (pp. 186-89). 

The Moral Law And The Fourth Commandment — "The Sanctity of the 
Moral Law" (pp. 193-204); "The Sabbath Institution" (pp. 205-18); "The 
Pattern of the Lord's Day" (pp. 219-24); "The Relevance of the Sabbath" (pp. 

The Church — "The Church: Its Definition in Terms of 'Visible' and 
'Invisible' Invalid" (pp. 231-36); "The Church: Its Identity, Functions and 
Resources" (pp. 237-44); "The Church and Mission" (pp. 245-52); "The 
Relation of Church and State" (pp. 253-59); "Government in the Church of 
Christ" (pp. 260-68); "The Biblical Basis for Ecclesiastical Union" (pp. 269-72); 
"Corporate Responsibility" (pp. 273-79); "The Creedal Basis of Union in the 
Church" (pp. 280-87). 

Historical — "Reformation" (pp. 291-97); "The Crux of the Reformation" 
(pp. 298-304); "Calvin as Theologian and Expositor" (pp. 305-1 1); "A Notable 
Tercentenary" (pp. 312-15); "The Importance and Relevance of the West- 
minster Confession" (pp. 316-22). 

Issues In The Contemporary World — "The Significance of the Doctrine 
of Creation" (pp. 325-29); "The Relevance of the Historical" (pp. 330-39); 
"William Barclay and the Virgin Birth" (pp. 340-43); "God and the War" (pp. 
344-55); "The Christian World Order" (pp. 356-66); "Christian Education" 
(pp. 367-74). 


Collected Writings of John Murray: Vol 2. Select Lectures in Systematic 
Theology, by John Murray. Philadelphia, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 

I. "The Origin of Man" (pp. 3-13); "The Nature of Man" (pp. 14-22); 
"Trichotomy" (pp. 23-33); "Man in the Image of God" (pp. 34-46); "The 
Adamic Administration" (pp. 47-59); "Free Agency" (pp. 60-66); "The Fall of 
Man" (pp. 67-76); "The Nature of Sin" (pp. 77-82); "Inability" (pp. 83-89). 

II. "Common Grace" (pp. 93-1 19). 

III. "The Plan of Salvation" (pp. 123-31); "The Person of Christ" 
(pp. 132-41); "The Atonement" (pp. 142-50); "The Obedience of Christ" 
(pp. 151-60). 

IV. "The Call" (pp. 161-66); "Regeneration" (pp. 167-201); "Justifica- 
tion" (pp. 202-22); "Adoption" (pp. 223-34); "Faith" (pp. 235-63); "The Assur- 
ance of Faith" (pp. 264-74). 

V. "Definitive Sanctification" (pp. 277-84); "The Agency in Definitive 
Sanctification" (pp. 285-93); "Progressive Sanctification" (pp. 294-304); "The 
Pattern of Sanctification" (pp. 305-12); "The Goal of Sanctification" 
(pp. 313-17). 

VI. "The Nature and Unity of the Church" (pp. 321-35); "The Govern- 
ment of the Church" (pp. 336-44); "The Form of Government" (pp. 345-50); 
"Arguments against Term Eldership" (pp. 351-56); "Office in the Church" (pp. 
357-65); "The Sacraments" (pp. 366-69); "Baptism" (pp. 370-75); "The Lord's 
Supper" (pp. 376-80); "Restricted Communion" (pp. 381-84). 

VII. "The Interadvental Period and the Advent: Matthew 24 and 25" 
(pp. 387-400); "The Last Things" (pp. 401-17). 

Science, Faith and Revelation: An Approach to Christian Philosophy, by 
Bob E. Patterson. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1979. 

Preface — E. Glenn Hinson, "Eric Charles Rust: Apostle to an Age 
of Science and Technology" (pp. 13-25). 

Part I: Faith and Transcendence — Doran McCarty, "Karl Heim and 
Teilhard de Chardin: Christian and Scientific Responses to the Problem of 
Transcendence" (pp. 27-37); John MacQuarrie, "Transcendent Beliefs" (pp. 
38-48); Roger Hazelton, "Transcendence and Theological Method" (pp. 49- 
64); David L. Mueller, "The Mystic Union in the Sermons of Meister 
Eckhart" (pp. 65-81); John Powell Clayton, "Can Theology Be Both Cultural 
and Christian?: Ernst Troeltsch and the Possibility of a Mediating Theology" 
(pp. 82-112). 

Part II: Faith and the Historical Process: — Stuart R. Sprague, "A 
Point of Departure for Process Theology: Christian Natural Theology" (pp. 
113-26); G. R. Beasley-Murray, "Faith and the Parousia" (pp. 127-43); Max 
E. Polley, "Revelation in the Writings of H. Wheeler Robinson and Eric 
Rust: A Comparative Study" (pp. 144-66); Osadolor Imasogie, "The Apolo- 
getic Challenge of the Radical Theological Movement" (pp. 167-98). 

Part III: Faith and the Biblical Revelation — Richard B. Cunningham, 
"The Concept of God in the Thought of Eric Rust" (pp. 199-223); Paul S. 


Minear, "Faith and Freedom: A Case Study" (pp. 224-38); Frank Stagg, 
"What Is Truth?" (pp. 239-60); W. L. Hendricks, "Imagination and Creativity 
as Integral to Hermeneutics" (pp. 261-82); R. E. Clements, "Prophecy and 
Revelation" (pp. 283-301). 

Part IV: Faith and the Natural Order — William G. Pollard, "Alternative 
Histories" (pp. 302-16); Al Studdard, "Ian T. Ramsey: The Language of 
Science and the Language of Religion" (pp. 317-35); Leroy Seat, "Scientific 
Knowledge as Personal Knowledge" (pp. 336-54); Robert M. Baird, "Leibniz 
and Locke: On the Relationship Between Metaphysics and Science" (pp. 


One happy event in contemporary publishing circles has been a renewed 
interest in publishing out-of-print works. Several publishers have been active 
in this endeavor. In this issue of the journal, a brief perusal will be made of 
those dealing with Old Testament subjects while the Fall issue will deal with 
New Testament reprints. 

Theology of the Old Testament, by Gustav F. Oehler. Minneapolis: Klock & 
Klock, 1978 (originally published in 1873). $16.50. 

This has long been one of the better theologies from the conservative 
perspective. Oehler (1812-1872) accepted the JEDP and deutero-Isaiah theo- 
ries although the work itself is a reaction against the rationalism of his time. 
Used with discretion, it is still valuable for the minister today. 

A New Commentary on Genesis, by Franz Delitzsch. 2 vols. Minneapolis: 
Klock & Klock, 1978 (1888). $21.95. 

That a volume as old as this could still be so useful stands as a genuine 
compliment to the great skills of its author. These volumes are of somewhat 
better quality than that of the combined efforts of Keil and Delitzsch. It is 
with gladness that the minister faces the addition of this to his library. 

The Unity of the Book of Genesis, by William Henry Green. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979 (1895). $9.95. Paper. 

At the turn of the century, classical Wellhausian approaches concerning 
the Documentary Hypothesis were ravaging orthodox churches and schools. 
This book is a reaction to that Documentary Hypothesis. Since classical 
Wellhausian concepts per se are no longer held, it is difficult to see much 
value in the reprinting of this volume. Unfortunately, many will no doubt 


think they have an answer to modern critics through this volume. Used 
judiciously, it may have some ongoing value but $9.95 for a paperback of an 
outdated work makes it an unattractive proposition. 

Studies in the Book of Daniel, by R. D. Wilson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 
(1917). $10.95. 

Wilson may well be the finest conservative scholar on the OT. Anything 
which he wrote is worthy of being read. Many of his arguments are valid even 
today. This volume, like Pusey's, is actually a defense of the orthodox view of 
Daniel rather than a commentary. The only complaint wo'uld be the price 
($10.95) which is steep for a paperback. 

Obadiah and Habakkuk, by Edward Marbury. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 
1979 (1649-50). $19.50. 

This is not a commentary on these neglected books so much as it is a 
sermonic treatment complete with outlines. Its size (763 pp.) makes it bulky 
to use although it does have some value. 

77*^ History of the Religion of Israel: an Old Testament Theology, by John 
Howard Raven. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 (1933). $9.95. 

The relative dearth of conservative scholarship in the area of OT 
Theology renders this volume a usability beyond its actual quality. On the 
other hand, if the tenets of orthodoxy are correct, they lend a certain 
timelessness to its literature. That timelessness will make this volume usable 
for some years to come. 

Old Testament Word Studies, by William Wilson. Grand Rapids: Kregel 
Publications, 1978 (1870). $19.95. 

This volume attempted to merge the features of a concordance with 
those of a lexicon. The concordance is keyed to a given English word from 
the Authorized Version under which are listed the various Hebrew words 
which may underlie the English. He then gives a lexical discussion of each 
Hebrew word used. The volume is handy but should be used with caution as 
a result of the many advances in translating given Hebrew words. 

The Book of Genesis and Part of the Book of Exodus, by Henry Alford. 
Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1979 (1872). N.P. 

This commentary on Genesis and Exodus (1-25) has the distinction of 
being done by a NT scholar. That feature makes it attractive in that he is free 
to draw upon his classical Greek heritage on many occasions. The author was 
basically orthodox. The volume is of help to the pastor building sermons but 
there are numerous, more reliable volumes that should be purchased first. 


The Book of Job, by Edgar Gibson. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 
(1899). $7.95. 

This is a useful volume for the sermon-builder on Job. It attempts to 
interact with the versions on a selective basis. Great strides have been made in 
understanding the difficult Hebrew of Job since 1899. Used with an up-to- 
date commentary, this one may be consulted. 

An Exposition of the Book of Isaiah, by William Kelly. Minneapolis: Klock 
& Klock, 1979 (1871). N.P. 

The author's pretribulational, premillennial views will make this volume 
attractive to those of that stance. It does not really rival those of Delitzsch or 
Young in quality and should be used only in company with those volumes. 

An Exposition of Ezekiel, by Patrick Fairbairn. Minneapolis: Klock & 
Klock, 1979 (1851). N.P. 

This volume is postmillennial in its theology and that somewhat mars its 
value. On the other hand, it is still useable — especially when it is remembered 
that there are so few works from conservatives on Ezekiel. 

The First Book of Samuel, by William G. Blaikie. Minneapolis: Klock & 
Klock, 1978 (1893). $11.95. The Second Book of Samuel, by William G. 
Blaikie. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 (1887). $10.95. 

These were originally published in the Expositor's Bible in 1887-88. The 
text is popularly written and devotional in character. 

Daniel the Prophet, by E. B. Pusey. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 
(1885). $16.50. 

This is probably the best work of the 19th century on Daniel. Actually, 
however, it is not a commentary; rather, it is a defense of Daniel against the 
charges of the critics of his day. 


rience. New York: Knopf, 1979. Pp. xiv+404. $15.00. 

BARBER, CYRIL J. How To Gain Life-Changing Insights from the Book 
of Books. Winona Lake: BMH, 1979. Pp. 16 (paper). N.P. 

BARKAI, MALACHI. Theoretical Implications of Consonant Sequence 
Constraints in Israeli Hebrew and ZEV BAR-LEV, The Ordering of 
Hebrew Morphological Processes. Afroasiatic Linguistics 6/1, ed. by 
Robert Hetzron and Russel G. Schuh. Malibu: Undena, 1978. Pp. 22 
(paper). N.P. 

BERMAN, RUTH ARONSON. Lexical Decomposition and Lexical Unity 
in the Expression of Derived Verbal Categories in Modern Hebrew. 
Afroasiatic Linguistics 6/3, ed. Robert Hetzron and Russel G. Schuh. 
Malibu: Undena, 1979. Pp. 26 (paper). N.P. 

BOICE, JAMES MONTGOMERY. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1979. Pp. 411; indexes. $9.95. 

BOTTOMS, LAWRENCE. Ecclesiastes Speaks to Us Today. Atlanta: John 
Knox, 1979. Pp. 109. $3.95. (paper). 


Preliminary Reports, No. 6. Syro-Mesopotamian Studies 2/6. Malibu: 
Undena, 1978. Pp. 36 (paper). N.P. 

BUCY, RALPH D. The New Laity: Between Church and World. Waco: 
Word, 1978. Pp. 216. $7.95. (paper). 

BURSTEIN, STANLEY MAYER. The Babyloniaca of Berossus. Sources 
from the Ancient Near East 1/5. Malibu: Undena, 1978. Pp. 37 (paper). 

CHRISTENSEN, MICHAEL J. C. S. Lewis on Scripture. Waco: Word, 
1979. Pp. 120. $6.95. 

CHRISTIAN, C. W. Friedrich Schleiermacher. Waco: Word, 1979. Pp. 157. 

CRISWELL, W. A. Acts: An Exposition. Vol. 1: Chapters 1-8. Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1978. Pp. 285. $9.95. 

DABNEY, ROBERT L. Sacred Rhetoric or A Course of Lectures on 
Preaching. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 1979. Pp. 361. $3.50. 

DELOE, JESSE B. Sweeter Than Honey. Winona Lake: BMH, 1979. Pp. 
154. $2.95. (paper). 

DI GANGI, MARIANO. / Believe in Mission. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presby- 
terian and Reformed, 1979. $2.95 (paper). 


GANGEL, KENNETH. The Family First. Winona Lake: BMH, 1979. Pp. 
135. $2.50 (paper). 

HEFLEY, JAMES and MARTI. By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the 
20th Century. Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1979. Pp. 636. $7.95 (paper). 

HODGE, CHARLES. The Way of Life. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1978. 
Pp. 238. $1.25 (paper). 

HOYT, HERMAN A. The First Christian Theology: Romans. Winona Lake: 
BMH, 1977. Pp. 187. $3.95 (paper). 

JEREMIAH, DAVID. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Winona Lake: BMH, 
n.d. $1.00 (paper). 

KARFF, SAMUEL E. Aggada: The Language of Jewish Faith. Cincinnati: 
Hebrew Union College, 1979. Dist. KTAV. Pp. 216. $12.50. 

KENT, HOMER A. Treasure of Wisdom: Studies in Colossians and Phi- 
lemon. Winona Lake: BMH, 1978. Pp. 184. $3.95. 

KYSAR, MYRNA and ROBERT. The Asundered: Biblical Teachings on 
Divorce and Remarriage. Atlanta: John Knox, 1978. Pp. 121. $5.95. 

LOCKYER, HERBERT. Light to Live By. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979. 

MATHER, COTTON. The Great Works of Christ in America. Vols. 1 & 2. 
Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979. Pp. 626 & 682. £12.00. 

MURRAY, IAIN. The Forgotten Spurgeon. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 

1978. Pp. 254. $3.50 (paper). 

NICHOLAS, DAVID R. What's a Woman to Do . . . in the Church? 
Scottsdale, AZ: Good Life, 1979. Pp. xiii+150. $7.95. 

PATTERSON, ROBERT E. (ed.). Science, Faith, and Revelation: An 
Approach to Christian Philosophy. Nashville: Broadman, 1979. N.P. 

PETTINATO, GIOVANNI. Old Canaanite Cuneiform Texts of the Third 
Millennium. Sources from the Ancient Near East 1/7. Malibu: Undena, 

1979. Pp. 17 (paper). N.P. 

STEIDL, PAUL M. The Earth, The Stars, and The Bible. Phillipsburg, 
NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1979. Pp. 250. $5.95 (paper). 

THIELICKE, HELMUT. The Faith Letters. Waco: Word, 1978. Pp. 194. 


WEBER, ROBERT E. The Secular Saint. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979. 
Pp. 219. $7.95. 

Creation, Form, and Significance. Winona Lake: BMH, 1978. $7.95. 

WILLOUGHBY, WILLIAM G. Counting the Cost. Elgin, IL: Brethren 
Press, 1979. N.P. 



Volume 1 No 2 Fall 1980 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Editorial Board 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. John J. Davis E. William Male 

President Vice-President Dean 

Editorial Committee 
John C. Whitcomb 


D. Wayne Knife Charles R. Smith John A. Sproule 

Associate Editor. Associate Editor, Associate Editor, 

Old Testament Theology New Testament 

Production Committee 
James Eisenbraun Donald L. Fowler Weston W. Fields 

Managing Editor Book Review Editor Circulation 

Grace Theological Journal is published twice annually. Subscription rates are: $7.50/ 
one year, $13.00/two years, $18.00/three years, payable in U.S. funds. 

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent to Grace Theological Journal, Box 318, 
Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. All articles should be type- 
written, double-spaced, on one side of the page only, and should conform to the 
requirements of the Journal of Biblical Literature style sheet; see JBL 95 (1976) 331-46. 
One exception should be noted, namely, that GTJ prefers the use of the original scripts 
for Greek and Hebrew, in contradistinction to JBL. 

Inquiries concerning subscriptions should be addressed to Grace Theological Journal, 
Box 373, Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. 

Copyright © 1980 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 1 No 2 Fall 1980 



John R. W. Stott on Social Action 129-147 


The Origin of the Universe 149-161 


An Interpretive Survey: Audience Reaction 

Quotations in Jeremiah 163-183 


The Man Christ Jesus 185-194 


Ephesians 2:3c and Peccatum Originale 195-219 


Early Jewish and Medieval Interpretation 
of the Song of Songs 221-231 


Book Reviews, Collected Essays, and 

Book Announcements 232-251 

Books Received 252-254 


Donald B. DeYoung 

Grace College, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Weston W. Fields 

Grace College, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Ivan H. French 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Ronald E. Manahan 

Grace College, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Gary T. Meadors 

Piedmont Bible College, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

David L. Turner 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John C. Whitcomb 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 


Gary T. Meadors 

The place of social concerns in missions has become an impor- 
tant issue in evangelicalism within the past decade. In the last year, 
one of the leading spokesmen for including social action as an equal 
partner with evangelism in missions has been John Stott. The salient 
points of Stott 's arguments and his use of Scripture are examined and 
found to be wanting. Furthermore, the emphasis seen in Stott 's recent 
writings illustrates a trend in the thinking of many evangelicals which 
is cause for concern. 

The battle lines in the present debate over the Bible include the 
foundational issues of epistemology and authority. The authority 
of Scripture is also the battle line for another battle — the battle 
for world evangelization. The authority of Scripture is acquiesced to 
and even claimed, but its authority is rendered void by faulty 
hermeneutics and unbiblical emphases. 

At the forefront of this battle is one of Evangelicalism's favorite 
sons, John R. W. Stott, Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church in 
London and also an honorary chaplain to the Queen of England. 
There is some suspicion, however, that Stott is not a true friend to 
biblical evangelicalism. 

The present paper is a selective review of John Stott's articles in 
the "Cornerstone" column of Christianity Today from September 21, 
1979 to May 23, 1980. 1 Two themes are preeminent in this period of 

'John R. W. Stott, "Peacemaking is a Management Responsibility" (Sept. 21, 
1979) 36-37; "The Biblical Scope of the Christian Mission" (Jan. 4, 1980) 34-35; 
"Calling for Peacemakers in a Nuclear Age, Part I" (Feb. 8, 1980) 44-45; "Calling for 
Peacemakers in a Nuclear Age, Part II" (March 7, 1980) 44-45; "Economic Equality 
Among Nations: A Christian Concern?" (May 2, 1980) 36-37; "The Just Demands of 
Economic Inequality" (May 23, 1980) 30-31. Hereinafter the date of the magazine will 
be used for note citation. 


writing: The Christian as a peacemaker and the need for Christian 
concern for universal opportunity for economic equality. 

A proper and full evaluation of Stott would require an in-depth 
study of all of his publications in chronological order, especially from 
1966 to the present, a period of shifting from his original position on 
missions to his present emphasis on social action. This study, how- 
ever is not within the scope of the present review. 


The purpose of this section is to give an overview of Stott's 
assertions in the articles cited in the introduction. Several aspects of 
these articles will be dealt with in more detail in the following sections 
of this review. 

Initial background 

The articles presently under consideration take on more meaning 
when viewed in reference to Stott's controversy with Arthur Johnston 
of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Johnston published The 
Battle for World Evangelism in 1978. In this work he surveyed the 
history of modern evangelism, particularly in light of the ecumenical 
movement. He pointed out how Lausanne is slipping dangerously in 
the same direction. He also presented some severe criticisms of Stott 
and his shift from evangelism only to evangelism and social action as 
equal partners in world mission. Johnston went so far as to declare 
that "Stott has dethroned evangelism as the only historical aim of 
mission." 2 

Stott responded to Johnston in his "Cornerstone" Column in 
Christianity Today. 

Brother Art, you say that I have "dethroned evangelism as the 
only historical aim of mission"; I would prefer to say that I have 
attempted to "enthrone love as the essential historical motivation for 
mission." 3 

The emphasis of Stott's post-Johnston writing would lead one to 
conclude that there is really only room for one master on the throne, 
namely, "love" as evidenced by social action. 

Stott has not always expressed himself for a dual mission. He 
describes his own journey in mission thinking from Berlin in 1966 to 
the publication of Christian Mission in the Modern World in 1975. 

Arthur Johnston, The Battle for World Evangelism (Wheaton: Tyndale, 
1978) 303. 

3 Stott, 1/4/80, 35. 


After exposing the biblical teaching for the great commission, Stott 

The cumulative emphasis seems clear. It is placed on preaching wit- 
nessing and making disciples, and many deduce from this that the 
mission of the church, according to the specification of the risen Lord, 
is exclusively a preaching, converting and teaching mission. Indeed, I 
confess that I myself argued this at the World Congress on Evangelism 
in Berlin in 1966, when attempting to expound the three major versions 
of the Great Commission. 

Today, however, I would express myself differently. It is not just 
that the commission includes a duty to teach converts everything Jesus 
had previously commanded (Matthew 28.20), and that social responsi- 
bility is among the things which Jesus commanded. I now see more 
clearly that not only the consequences of the commission but the actual 
commission itself must be understood to include social as well as 
evangelistic responsibility, unless we are to be guilty of distorting the 
words of Jesus. 4 

Stott proceeds, immediately after making the above point, to 
redefine Christian mission. He asserts that the Johannine commission 
constitutes the real key to mission. He explains John's view of 
mission in relation to Jesus' statement that "as the Father hath sent 
me, so send I you" (John 17:18; 20:21). In answer to the question "in 
what sense was the Son sent," he reduces the Father's commission to 
the Son to one of service. Jesus was sent to serve and likewise we are 
sent to serve. 5 

Stott's view of service, however, is social, not redemptive. While 
it was within the mission of Christ to be both a servant and a Savior 
(Mark 10:45), we are only able to be servants since "we are not 
saviors." 6 He insists that we are to serve as Jesus served: "he fed 
hungry mouths and washed dirty feet, he healed the sick, comforted 
the sad and even restored the dead to life." 7 

Stott's observations are only partially true. Jesus did serve, 
but his service was redemption oriented, not service oriented. He was 
the Suffering Servant of Jehovah and all of his acts of service 
were designed to magnify his redemptive mission. They were not 
designed to draw attention to themselves as acts of service but 
to draw attention to the Servant as the promised Messiah. Jesus' 
response to the disciples of John the Baptist makes this quite clear 
(cf. Matt 11:2-6). 

John R. W. Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove: 
InterVarsity, 1975) 23. 
5 Ibid., 23, 24 
6 Ibid., 24. 
7 Ibid. 


From his limited view of the Johannine commission, Stott 
builds a structure of social action as "a partner of evangelism." 8 He 
also appeals to the great commandment to love your neighbor as 
support for social action. 

Stott's concept of the Johannine commission constitutes a move 
to support his burning desire to wed evangelism and social action as 
equal in importance. It is the same kind of invalid hermeneutic which 
he employs in the articles about to be analyzed. 

The "Cornerstone" articles 

The "Cornerstone" articles from September, 1979, to May, 1980, 
reflect Stott's deepening commitment to evangelical involvement in 
social action. They also clearly reflect Stott's involvement with 
Lausanne's call for a simple life style, 9 an aspect of the continuing 
influence of Lausanne in which Stott is intimately involved. 

The industrial problems of Britain during the winter of 1978-79 
stimulated Stott to formulate a theology of peacemaking which he 
extends to various domains. He asserts: 

Social turmoil is of special concern to Christians because we are in 
the business of right relations. Reconciliation is at the top of our 
agenda because it is at the heart of our gospel. Jesus is the world's su- 
preme peacemaker, and he tells his followers to be peacemakers too. 10 

Having modified the spiritual concept of reconciliation to in- 
clude sociopolitical areas and having put these areas at the top of the 
evangelical agenda, Stott proceeds in his series of articles to balance 
numerous concepts upon the foundation of his view of a peacemaker. 
The following chart summarizes the articles. 

Industrial justice (10/21/79) 

Social missions (1/4/80) 

Anti-war/ nuclear (2/8/80) 

Political involvement (3/7/80) 

Universal opportunity for 
economic equality (5/2,23/80) 

Christian Peacemakers 

8 Ibid„ 27. 

9 Cf. International Consultation on Simple Lifestyle publication, "An Evangelical 
Commitment to Simple Lifestyle" (March, 1980). Obtain from Unit on Ethics and 
Society, World Evangelical Fellowship, 300 W. Apsley St., Philadelphia, PA 19144. 

10 Stott, 9/21/79, 36. He does not develop Matt 5:9 theologically until 2/8/80. 


Stott evaluates industrial justice from the perspective of 1 Kings 
12. He sees in this passage the principle of "mutual service arising 
from mutual respect." 11 His evaluation, however, is strongly in favor 
of the working class. He lays the whole burden for reconciliation on 
management by calling for a commitment to (1) abolish discrimina- 
tion; (2) increase participation; and (3) emphasize cooperation. 

Stott says many things which are true and reasonable in the 
socio-political realm. Our argument is not with his politics and social 
concerns but (1) with his presentation of these ideas under the guise 
of biblical authority and (2) with his call to the Christian community 
to forsake (in emphasis if not in essence) biblical models of evan- 
gelism in favor of social models. 

For example, management, he says, is obligated by biblical 
authority to practice profit sharing. "Profit sharing also rests on 
biblical principle: the laborer is worthy of his hire." 12 We have no 
problem with Paul, but we have our doubts about this modern 

He further asserts that 

In the last century Christians opposed slavery because by it 
humans were dehumanized by being owned by others. In this century 
we should oppose all labor arrangements in which humans are de- 
humanized by being used by others — even if they have signed away 
their responsibility in a voluntary contract. 13 

These kinds of comments have far reaching ramifications. In 
regard to profit sharing, one wonders how Stott would explain Jesus' 
parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt 20:1-16). 

Stott 's concept of "dehumanizing" 14 is even more alarming in 
light of the biblical concept of God's ownership, and in light of the 
apostles' nonresistance to slavery. Does the apostles' silence make 
them guilty of dehumanizing by omission? Is God culpable of de- 
humanizing when he exercises his sovereign right of ultimate owner- 
ship in consigning humans to hell? 

Stott begins to labor his linking of social mission with evan- 
gelism in his January 4 article under the domain of holistic missions. 
God's character, he says, demands "that he is the God of social justice 
as well as personal salvation." 15 The nature of man demands "that the 
neighbor we are to love and serve is a physical and social as well as a 

"Stott, 9/21/79, 36. 

12 Ibid., 37. 

13 Ibid. 

14 He also dehumanized Lazarus in Luke 16; cf. 5/2/80, 37. 

15 Stott, 1/4/80, 34. 


spiritual person." 16 The truth or falsehood of these assertions is not 
the issue. The issue is what constitutes the great commission in its 
basic biblical statement: evangelism or social justice. Love and service 
are not absolutes and cannot be judged apart from a truth base; love 
and service will deteriorate into mere social action if not made 
subservient to truth. This seems to be the direction in which Stott is 
going and it is this drift to which we object. 

Stott 's anti-war I nuclear position appeals to Matthew 5:9 for a 
theological base. He describes the alarming world scene and then 
asserts that 

It is against this background of horror that we need to hear again 
the words of Jesus: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be 
called God's children. Peacemaking is a divine activity, and we can 
claim to be authentic children of God only if we seek to do what our 
heavenly Father is doing. Thus, the basis for peacemaking is theolog- 
ical: it derives from our doctrine of God. 17 

A later section will investigate this use of the seventh beatitude. 
Meanwhile, this same article contains several theologically suspect 

First, Stott equates the concepts of salvation and peacemaking. 
"For Scripture calls judgment his 'strange work'; his characteristic 
work, in which he delights, is salvation or peacemaking." 18 

Second, he asserts that Christ's "resort to violence of word and 
deed was occasional, alien, uncharacteristic; his characteristic was 
nonviolence; the symbol of his ministry is not the whip but the 
cross." 19 In response, one wonders what happened to the book of 
Revelation — when the Son of Man in accord with all prophetic Scrip- 
ture will demonstrate his violent side. One also is puzzled when Jesus 
makes statements such as "I came not to send peace but a sword" 
(Matt 10:34). This is a strange kind of social action from the greatest 
of all peacemakers. In 1 Corinthians 5, and in many other passages, 
the Bible clearly teaches the truth that it is sometimes necessary to be 
a "division-maker" in order to be a preserver of truth. 

Stott's discussion of how to inculcate peacemaking in a nuclear 
age points out the necessity of prayer so that "we might lead a quiet 
and peaceable life" (1 Tim 2:l-2); 20 however, his recommendations for 
political activism are cultural and not biblical. In fact, they actually 

16 ibid. 

17 Stott, 2/8/80, 44. 

,8 Ibid. 


20 Stott, 3/7/80, 44. 


violate the principle which Paul presents in Timothy in that some of 
the political activism involved can hardly be labeled as part of a quiet 
and peaceable life. When Christians are advised to "support any 
means [italics mine] to reduce this confrontation of suspicion and 
fear" (referring to the bluff tactics of the U.S.A. and Russia), one 
wonders if this is involved in Paul's prescription for a quiet and 
peaceable life. 

Stott rises to his boldest form when he deals with the universal 
economic equality of the world, and particularly between the Free 
and the Third Worlds. He sounds a loud and clear note of agreement 
with West German ex-chancellor Willi Brandt's development report 
that "the greatest challenge to mankind for the remainder of the 
century" is to solve the problems of hunger, death in the Third World 
countries, and illiteracy. 21 These may indeed be top agenda items for 
politicians and world economists, but they should not be confused 
with the evangelistic obligation of evangelical Christians. This issue 
will be the subject of a later section. 


The directional drift of Stott should be alarming to the biblicist. 
The above analysis only scratches the surface; every paragraph in 
Stott's articles needs careful scrutiny. 

The following general observations are presented to summarize 
Stott's writing. 

1. There is no mention of biblical salvation from sin as a 
prerequisite for true peace. Stott would surely deny that he neglects 
spiritual evangelism and some past publications would tend to sup- 
port such an affirmation. However, his silence in his present writing 
along with his strong emphasis on other issues is cause for concern. 

2. The theology of man's fall and the concept of depravity 
are not evident in Stott's thinking. These concepts are absent even 
when a good opportunity to allude to them presents itself (e.g. 
5/23/80, p. 30a). 

3. The articles present a one-sided view of the nature of God and 
reality when the Scriptures clearly indicate duality (e.g. God's attri- 
butes are balanced, He is righteous as well as loving). 

4. There is an equivocation of spiritual concepts into the domain 
of the sociopolitical (e.g., reconciliation, 10/21/79, p. 36). 

5. There is a lack of a solid grammatical, historical exegesis for 
theological assertions. 

6. No attempt has been made to distinguish between the biblical 
concepts of truth and love. 

21 Stott, 5/2/80, 36. 


These trends signal an initial departure which may pave the way 
for future deviations. 


It has been observed that John Stott launches his plea for social 
action from his perception of the seventh beatitude. The present 
chapter will endeavor to explicate the exegetical meaning of Matt 5:9 
and to compare this meaning with Stott's view of a peacemaker in 
order to ascertain if his peacemaker concept fits the biblical model. 

Greater context of Matthew 

The OT foretold that the King was coming; Matthew tells about 
his arrival and his program. It is the royal gospel, the gospel of the 
kingdom. Chaps. 1 and 2 tell us about the King's lineage. Chaps. 3 
and 4 verify the King's presence and authority. He is verified by the 
ministry of the Baptist, consecrated by baptism, and proven true by 
temptation. He is presented to the Jewish nation in chaps. 5-25 as 
their predicted messianic king. He is rejected with finality by that 
same nation in chaps. 26 and 27, yet demonstrates the validity of his 
ultimate triumph in chap. 28. 

It should be obvious, therefore, that Matthew portrays Christ as 
the theocratic king and that the provenance of this gospel is Jewish. It 
is in no way a treatise on Roman politics or Greek culture. 

Immediate context 

Matt 5:9 is nestled in the beatitudes which introduce the Ser- 
mon on the Mount. The Sermon contains the ethical precepts for 
kingdom life. 

It is an understatement to observe that the Sermon on the 
Mount has been variously interpreted. It is not the purpose of the 
present paper to review the various interpretive approaches to the 
Sermon, but merely to affirm that "its principles are applicable to the 
children of God today." 22 

The beatitudes stipulate the attitudes which are necessary in 
the application of the precepts which are presented in 5:17-7:29. 
They are predications of character (note the equative verbs), not 
plans for action. 

The remaining precepts of the Sermon present behavioral bound- 
aries for those individuals who profess to be members of the king- 
dom. They are not dealing with world governments but with individ- 
uals who are submitted to a theocratic king. 

"Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible (Chicago: Moody, 1976) 12. 


Matt 5:9 

The concern of this section is to discern the biblical meaning of 
"peacemakers" (e!pr|voTtoioi). 

Etymology and usage. Eipr|vo7toi6g is a compound adjective 
comprised of Ttoieu) ("make") plus £iprjvr| ("peace"), and it is used 
substantially in Matt 5:9. The noun aspect of this compound is 
probably the most important for etymological purposes. Eipr|vr| may 
denote various ideas. It is often the NT equivalent of Di 7$ ("peace"), 
such as in "greetings and similar expressions, where it has the sense of 
well being or salvation." 3 It also reflects "the Rabbinic sphere by its 
frequent use for concord between men (Acts 7:26; Gal 5:22; Eph 4:3; 
Jas 3:18; cf. 1 Pet 3:1 1)." 24 In many biblical contexts, the opposite of 
DiVtt? is }H ("evil"). Foerster summarizes by observing: 

As regards the material use of the term in the NT three concep- 
tions call for notice: a. peace as a feeling of peace and rest; b. peace as 
a state of reconciliation with God; and c. peace as the salvation of the 
whole man in an ultimate eschatological sense. All three possibilities 
are present, but the last is the basis. This confirms the link with OT 
and Rabbinic usage. 25 

Therefore, while eiprjvr] does not have have one simple and fixed 
meaning, it does have strong OT ties, especially with Di/ttJ and its 
various usages. As with all word studies, one must look to usage to 
determine meaning. 

Strictly speaking, one cannot determine the usage of "peace- 
maker" in the NT because it is a hapax legomenon. It is, in fact, a 
rare word throughout Greek literature. "It is rare in secular Gk. (e.g. 
Xen., 6,3,4; Cornutus 16p. 23,2; Dio Cass., 44,49,2; 72,15,5; Plut., 
Mor. 279b; Pollux, 152; Philo, Spec. Leg. 2,192), where it is applied 
in particular to emperors." 26 

It does not occur in Josephus, 27 the apocrypha and pseudepi- 
grapha, 28 or in Moulton and Milligan's work on the papyri. 29 It only 
occurs in Prov 10:10 and Isa 27:5 in the LXX. The Proverbs passage 

"Werner Foerster, "eipnvri k.t.L" in TDNT 3 (1964) 411. 

24 Ibid. 

25 Ibid., 412. 
H. Beck and C. Brown, "Peace," in The New International Dictionary of New 
Testament Theology (3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 2. 782. 

Karl H. Rengstorf, ed., A Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus (4 vols.; 
Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973). 

28 On the basis of Christ. Abrah. Wahl, Clavis Librorum Veteris Testamenti 
Apocryphorum Philologica (Graz-Austria: Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt, 1972). 

29 James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New 
Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949). 


refers to man's relationship with man and Isaiah has reference to 
Israel making peace with God. 

It does occur with some frequency in the patristics, especially in 
its verb form. 30 The Fathers use it particularly in relation to divine 
activity and to the Christian community. The patristic sources, 
according to Lampe's citations, do not relate the term to worldly 
political activity but to spiritual and ecclesiastical activity. 

In light of this relatively rare use of the term, and in regard to 
meaning from a biblical perspective, it becomes especially important 
to search the NT for any clues which may aid our understanding of 
what constitutes a peacemaker. 

In the NT, the verb form is used only in Col 1:20. It refers to 
Christ's work of spiritual reconciliation "through the blood of his 
cross" (cf. Acts 10:36; Eph 2:17). Also, 7toi8(o plus eipr]vr| in syntac- 
tical context only occurs twice in the NT. In Eph 2:15 Christ's 
redemptive work "made peace" in the sense of spiritual reconciliation. 
In James 3:18 the context associates the term with Christian character 
and righteousness rather than with social revolution (cf. Eph 4:31, 
1 Pet 3:11). 

The NT predominantly uses peace in a spiritual, salvific, and 
ecclesiastical context (cf., e.g., Rom 5:1; 12:18; 15:13,33; 14:19; 1 Cor 
14:33; Eph 4:3; 2 Tim 2:22; Heb 12:14). Deity is referred to as "the 
God of peace" (Rom 16:20; 2 Cor 13:1 1) and Christ is the founder of 
peace (John 16:33; Eph 2:14ff.; Luke 2:14 ASV). There is a distinct 
absence of political usage. Peace in the NT is related to Deity and to 
those who have submitted to the Deity. It is not a term for the 
unsaved man or the secular world. 

Interpretive tradition. The force of the seventh beatitude has 
been variously inter pretated. Some have viewed it to mean "blessed 
are those who make this world a better place to live in." 31 It is thus 
viewed by some as merely a general admonition to peace in any 

The church fathers have generally stressed the personal aspect of 
"peace." 32 Augustine saw the peacemaker as first of all spiritual; 
inward peace was more important to Augustine than outward peace. 
In fact, ultimate and meaningful peace often demands division. 

Too many expositors look exclusively to that other and lower peace, 
those especially who prize Christianity mainly for its power for healing 

30 Geoffrey W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 
1961) 421. 

'William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew (2 vols.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 
1975) 109. 



the outward sores of the world, not as that which alone stanches the 
deep inner wounds of men's souls. Not that the peace of this world is 
excluded; the Gospel does bring this peace, but only by the way: it is 
aiming at a higher peace, and one for the sake of which, as being the 
only true peace, it is willing for a season to forego and sacrifice the 
other, to be called a troubler, and one who turns the world upside 
down, to appear to be introducing the sword of division, rather than to 
be knitting the bands of love. 33 

The meaning of peacemaker has also been viewed from the 
Rabbinic perspective. "The Jewish Rabbis held that the highest task 
which a man can perform is to establish right relationships between 
man and man." 4 Hillel is reported as having said: "Be ye of the 
disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace." 35 Tasker 
reflects this position by observing that: 

The peacemakers are those who are at peace with God 'the author 
of peace and lover of concord'; and who show that they are truly 
children of God by striving to use every opportunity open to them to 
effect reconciliation between others who are at variance. 36 

"Peacemaker" is best understood in light of the use of this term 
in its conceptual relationship to reconciliation and the total analogy 
of peace in the NT. Namely, a peacemaker is one who is first of all at 
peace with God by virtue of the cross of Christ and is also seeking a 
peaceful relationship with those he comes into contact with, especially 
those in his immediate Christian community (Gal 6:10). 

This assertion seems to be supported in Matt 5:9 itself. The 
structure of the beatitudes may well be that of synthetic parallelism. 
"That is to say, the second line of each Beatitude contains mention of 
a blessing which completes the promise or pronouncement made in 
the first line." 37 Therefore, a peacemaker is in an intimate way related 
to the concept "sons of God." It is also helpful to remember that "in 
Jewish thought, 'son' often bears the meaning 'partaker of the charac- 
ter of,' or the like." 38 A peacemaker, therefore, is one who does the 

R. C. Trench, Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount Drawn from the Writings 
of St. Augustine (London: Macmillan, 1869) 169-70. 
"Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, 1 10. 

Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel 
According to St. Matthew (ICC; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925) 41. 

R. V. G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1961) 62. 

John Wick Bowman, "Travelling the Christian Way — The Beatitudes," Review 
and Expositor 54 (1957) 379. Cf. Also Matthew Black, "The Beatitudes," Expository 
Times 64 (1952-53) 125-26. 

D. A. Carson, The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of 
Matthew 5-7 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978) 26. 


kind of work that God does, and since he thus reflects the character 
of God he is identified with the family term "son." He is a peace- 
maker in the same sense that his Father is. Hendriksen states it in the 
following way. 

True peace-makers are all those whose Leader is the God of peace 
(1 Cor. 14:33; Eph. 6:15; 1 Thess. 5:23), who aspire after peace with all 
men (Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14) proclaim the gospel of peace (Eph. 
6:15), and pattern their lives after the Prince of Peace (Luke 19:10; 
John 13:12-15; cf. Matt. 10:8). 

This, moreover, is not a peace at any price. It is not brought about 
by compromise with the truth, under the guise of "love" (?). On the 
contrary, it is a peace dear to the hearts of all who speak the truth in 
love (Eph. 4:15) 39 

Stott's peacemaker 

What is the image of the peacemaker which John Stott presents? 
the reading of his present writing can only leave one with the impres- 
sion that for Stott a peacemaker is a political activist in the domain 
of anti-war, anti-nuclear, anti-arms race, U.S. and Russian relation- 
ships and all sorts of public, political dialogue. 40 While he does 
mention prayer and ecclesiastical peacemaking, his clear emphasis on 
social action reveals where his heart is. 

If, for the sake of argument, we should accept Stott's concept of 
peacemaker, then we should find clear implications in the NT that the 
apostles were political activists. No such evidence exists. 

Furthermore, does it not seem strange that Jesus would make a 
mere political statement and that Matthew would press it when the 
early church was the least likely group in the Roman world to bring 
about political peace? It is also significant that for nearly three 
hundred years we do not find the church involved in political action. 
George Lawlor well observes: 

Here is no political congress, no international board, no League of 
Nations, no religious order, no church embassage, no World Council. 
It speaks of those whose peace with God is an accomplished fact (Rom. 
5:1), who live in peace, if at all possible, with all men (Rom. 12:18), 
who work to make and keep peace wherever peace is threatened or lost 
(Rom. 14:17-19), and who are intent upon following their Prince of 
Peace (1 Peter 2:21). 

However, we are not called upon to sacrifice truth for peace, and 
thus make the latter "peace at any price." Such peace is not really 

William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1973) 278-79. 

40 Cf. especially Stott, 2/8/80 and 3/7/80. 


peace, because it forsakes the duty of contending for the faith once for 
all delivered unto the saints (Jude 3) and abandons principle, convic- 
tion, and doctrine. True peacemakers do not cry "Peace!" when there is 
no peace. They do not preach a spurious peace that covers over sin and 
does not remove it. 41 


Stott endeavors to answer the question, "How should Christians 
react to the growing demand from the Third World for economic 
justice?" 42 He proposes two biblical principles as a theological answer 
and offers several practical avenues of expression in obedience to his 

Stott 's two principles 

The principle of unity. Stott endeavors to build his principle of 
unity upon Psa 24:1, Gen 1:28, and the parable of the Good 
Samaritan. Referring to the Psalm and Genesis passages, Stott asserts 
that "the whole earth was to be developed by the whole people for the 
common good; all were to share in its God-given resources." 43 

Even a cursory reading of the cited texts will immediately suggest 
that Stott's comment constitutes a conceptual leap of great magni- 
tude. For example, Psa 24:1 is a statement of the dependence and 
ultimate ownership of created kind by the Creator. It does not teach 
Stott's concept of unity. 

Genesis 1:28 merely affirms that man is to wisely control the 
earth and its creatures for his benefit. It says nothing about political 
or economic activism. Our larger concern is that on the basis of 
Christ's finished work, the Christian church has been given a redemp- 
tive mandate in the Great Commission of the gospels. Therefore, 
social action detached from submission to evangelism as outlined in 
Christ's redemptive mandate constitutes disobedience to the clear 
teaching of Scripture. 

Luke 10:25-37 is also lifted from its biblical context and conve- 
niently inserted into Stott's system. He claims that the major point of 
this parable is "that true neighbor love ignores racial and national 
barriers." 44 He culturalizes the parable in order to demand active 
involvement in Third World problems. 

Stott stretches the point of the parable in using it for his 
purposes. While it does point out that a neighbor is anyone in need, 

"'George L. Lawlor, Beatitudes Are for Today (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974) 81. 

42 Stott, 5/2/80, 36. 

43 Ibid. 

44 Stott, 5/2/80, 36. 


even an enemy (cf. Lev 19:34; Exod 23:4, 5; 2 Kgs 6:8-23), it does not 
indicate that the Samaritan was in the business of traveling the world 
in search of such "neighbors." He did what he could to help while 
fulfilling his own business responsibilities. In the theocratic kingdom 
the Jews were responsible for strangers in their domain but not for 
those outside their domain. The parable is not actually designed to 
define "neighbor" but to encourage being a neighbor when an obvious 
opportunity presents itself. 

Stott's use of his principle of unity well illustrates his herme- 
neutical practice. He takes a passage which seems to support what he 
wants to prove and uses it as a launching pad for his own cultural 
application. He often emphasizes the truth of a passage — e.g., the 
general concern a Christian should have for his fellow man — without 
balancing this with the biblical commands regarding other responsi- 
bilities and priorities. Medical care, for example, is often important in 
missions. But its importance is totally subordinate to the essentials of 
Christ's redemptive mandate. Stott has lost sight of the revealed 

The principles of equality. The second principle which Stott 
presents to justify Christian involvement in procuring Third World 
economic justice is what he terms the principle of equality. Stott 
summarizes his point in the following way. 

At present, millions of people made in God's image are unable to 
develop their human potential because of illiteracy, hunger, poverty, or 
disease. It is, therefore, a fundamentally Christian quest to seek for all 
people equality of opportunity in education (universal education is 
arguably the principal means to social justice), in trade (equal access 
to the world's markets), and in power sharing (representation on 
the influential world bodies that determine international economic 
relations). 45 

Stott claims that 2 Cor 8:8-15 provides Christians with the 
principle of equality upon which the above conclusion may rest. It is 
best to allow the author to speak for himself at this point. He asserts 
that Paul 

grounds his appeal for the poor Judaean churches on the theology of 
the Incarnation — that is, on the gracious renunciation of Christ, who, 
though rich became poor so that through his poverty we might become 
rich (v. 9). It was a renunciation with a view to an equalization. It 

Tbid., 37. 


should be the same with the Corinthians: "Your abundance at the 
present time should supply their want . . . that there may be equality" 
[ellipsis is Stott's]. 46 

A few observations concerning 2 Corinthians 8 are in order 
before evaluating Stott's use of it. First, the unsaved community is 
not to be read into this context. Paul is encouraging a sort of inter- 
Christian community credit union. At this time Paul is presenting the 
need of the Jerusalem Christians, but v 14 also allows for a reversal 
of need in the future: "that their [Jerusalem saints] abundance also 
may become a supply for your want." Second, Paul's illustration of 
Christ's incarnation refers to attitude and position, not economics (cf. 
Philippians 2). 

Stott takes 2 Corinthians 3 and universalizes an idea which Paul 
restricted to the Christian community. Paul recommended a course of 
action (v 8), while Stott demands that Christians must secure equal 
opportunity for all the underprivileged and oppressed throughout 
the world. 

Stott's application of 2 Corinthians is theologically suspect on 
several counts. His view of the image of God in man is inadequate 
when he asserts that millions of people are not allowed to develop the 
imago dei in themselves because they lack the opportunity to do so. 
Image development takes place by confrontation with the spiritual 
realities of Christ and His Word (cf. Rom 12; 1 Cor 13), not by a 
bread line. The unsaved, whether hungry or full, have no capacity for 
image development. Stott seems to blame the environment, both 
physical and mental, for what should be credited to man's bent for 
sin. But the environment is bad because man is bad. 

Furthermore, Stott has made fundamental what is at best 
secondary. When he states that equality in education, trade and 
politics is a fundamental quest of the Christian church 47 without even 
an allusion to man's spiritual problem, he has left the domain of 
biblical orthodoxy. 

Stott's comment that "universal education is arguably the princi- 
pal means to social justice" 48 is both naive and alarming. It sounds 
more like liberal humanism and the philosophy of John Dewey than 
biblical evangelicalism. It is also impossible to reconcile this theory 
with the revealed means whereby the coming theocratic king will 
institute true social justice. Unregenerated sinful man ultimately 
responds to a rod, not to chalk. 

46 Ibid., 36-37. 

47 Ibid., 37 

48 Ibid.; Stott, 5/23/80, 30. 


Therefore, Stott's use of 2 Corinthians 8 is invalid. His transition 
from whatever truth he has found in this passage to his statements 
concerning social economic action, supposedly based on this passage, 
is a leap of gigantic proportions. 

Another alarming bit of exegesis by Stott is observed in his 
reference to Luke 16: 19-3 1. 49 Stott's actual words must be considered 

We are all tempted to use the enormous complexity of inter- 
national economics as an excuse to do nothing. Yet this was the sin of 
Dives. There is no suggestion that Dives was responsible for the 
poverty of Lazarus either by robbing or by exploiting him. The reason 
for Dives's guilt is that he ignored the beggar at his gate and did 
precisely nothing to relieve his destitution. He acquiesced in a situation 
of gross economic inequality, which had rendered Lazarus less than 
fully human and which he could have relieved. The paraiah dogs that 
licked Lazarus's sores showed more compassion than Dives did. Dives 
went to hell because of his indifference. 50 

Stott, therefore, interprets the main point of this story (whether 
real or parabolic is not of concern here, for the main theme remains 
the same) to be economic in nature. Dives ignored (an argument from 
silence), either consciously or unconsciously, an opportunity for 
economic equalization with a two-fold result: Lazarus was rendered 
less than human and Dives went to hell because of his economic 

The greater context of Luke 16 includes the parable of the 
unrighteous steward (vv 1-13) and a denunciation of Pharisaic self- 
righteousness (vv 14-17). The point in vv 1-17 is that the Pharisees 
were unfaithful stewards of God's truth (cf. w 15-17). They preferred 
the mammon of unrighteousness as a means of success rather than 
obedience to God's law. 

Jesus introduced the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus imme- 
diately after upbraiding the Pharisees. This story contributes a signifi- 
cant punch line to the preceding verses, namely, disregard for the law 
and the prophets has grave consequences and will receive the ultimate 
punishment (vv 29-31). As Morris puts it, "there is an indication that 
the rich man's unpleasant situation was not due to his riches (after all, 
Abraham had been rich), but to his neglect of Scripture and its 
teaching." 51 

49 Stott, 5/2/80, 37. 
50 Ibid. 
Leon Morris, 777^ Gospel According to St. Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1975) 254. 


It is true that worldly goods comprise a part of the contrast 
throughout this chapter. In fact, Luke's gospel itself uses the 
rich/poor motif on several occasions (cf. 1:53; 6:20-26; 12:13-21). 
However, the misuse of money merely serves to connect the character 
of Dives to the character of the Pharisees (cf. v 14) and to refute the 
belief that riches alone are a proof of divine blessing. 

The point throughout Luke 16 is a point of revealed truth, not 
earthly economics. When revealed truth is ignored, so are many other 
areas. In a sense, the Pharisees were handling truth like the rich man 
was handling his money. Likewise, both Dives and those like him go 
to hell not because of greed and indifference to the needs of others, 
but because of the refusal to be a steward of truth. 

The principles of unity and equality as presented by Stott are 
a misrepresentation of the biblical text upon which they are alleg- 
edly built. 

Stott 's practical advice 

Stott begins his May 23 article with a summary statement of his 
view of economic justice and then launches out into four specific 
domains with suggestions of how we can seek "equal opportunity for 
all human beings (through education, medical care, housing, nutri- 
tion, and trade) to develop their full, God-given potential. This is the 
minimum that love and justice should demand." 52 

One might label this article as Stott's missionary call to social 
action. It begins with a passionate appeal that "God may well be 
calling more Christian people than hear and respond to his call to 
give their lives in the service of the poor and powerless, in practical 
philanthropy or Third World development, in politics, or in econom- 
ics." 53 He then proceeds with a four-point sermon on how to do 
social action: with our heart, our head, our mouth, and our pocket. 

The reviewer will merely point out a few of the highlights of 
Stott's sermon. 

He appeals first to our emotions by giving a rather narrow 
interpretation of Matt 9:35-38. 

When Jesus saw the multitudes, hungry and leaderless, he was moved 
with compassion, and then fed them or taught them or both. It was 
compassion that aroused and directed his action, and it is compassion 
that we need most. We have to feel what Jesus felt — the pangs of the 
hungry, the alienation of the powerless, and the indignities of the 
wretched of the earth. 54 

"Stott, 5/23/80, 30. 


54 Ibid. 


Stott has conveniently omitted the first item mentioned by 
Matthew. Jesus went about "teaching in their synagogues, preaching 
the good news of the kingdom." Jesus' compassion was for a world 
that was spiritually adrift, not for people without a UNICEF 

This methodology well illustrates Stott's use of the Bible. We do 
not disagree that we should have compassion for starving people and 
for those who suffer from social injustice. We are all confronted with 
worldly inequalities constantly. But how do we attack these prob- 
lems? How will we change our world? Our only hope is to follow the 
example of the apostles: be truth tellers in conjunction with the great 
commission of our Lord. 

Why did Paul not fight slavery? Why did he not attack Rome 
and its many inequalities between the royal and the working class? 
Because Paul had a greater task to perform and he was a realist 
concerning the post-lapse world. Jesus did not call Paul or present 
day Christians to a primary task of changing the world-system, but to 
evangelize individuals, to teach them all things He commanded, and 
to recognize that Satan is the "god of this world" and that our only 
hope for ultimate political correction is Jesus' second advent. 

After Stott corrects our heart, he proceeds to work on our heads, 
We need, he asserts, increased awareness of the Third World needs. 
The Third World is like Lazarus at the gate and we affluent 
Christians are acting like Dives. If we are truly aware we will know 
what trade agreements are in force and how they affect the Third 
World economy; we will pressure the news media to increase Third 
World coverage, and we will make pilgrimages to the Third World 
for personal contact with their needs. 

The next logical step, the third point in his sermon, is to be a 
witness. We should spread the bad news. People are starving and the 
Christian world is unconcerned. If one should ask, "How, Dr. Stott, 
can I be a witness?" We would expect the answer, "Engage in political 
agitation! Join pressure groups! Outdo the humanists in showing 
concern! Ask informed and embarrassing questions to the right 

The final step is an appeal to put our money where our mouths 
are; "Most of us (for I include myself) ought to give more generously 
to aid and development, as well as to world evangelization." 55 

We might be encouraged by a glimmer of light when the word 
"evangelism" is mentioned. However, as we meditate upon the words 
"as well as," our hope begins to fade. These words place social 
responsibility on a par-of-equality with evangelism. Yet, after reading 

55 Ibid., 31. 


the "Cornerstone" articles, one wonders whether the use of the term 
"evangelism" is not simply a semantical dressing for the sake of 
enhancing orthodox appearance. 

A new emphasis 

The correlation of the "Cornerstone" articles on economics with 
Stott's involvement with the International Consultation on Simple 
Lifestyle held at Hoddesdon, England, in March, 1980, is quite 
obvious. Stott notes that his May 23 article was written just prior to 
ICSL's March meeting. 56 This meeting produced a six-page, single- 
spaced document on the social concerns (= simple lifestyle) of this 
Lausanne committee. This statement contains less than half a page on 
evangelism, and even this statement is permeated with social 

It is impossible to evade the impression that the present burden 
of John R. W. Stott is more social than evangelistic. Evangelicals 
should be saddened by the fact that Stott has decided to emphasize 
social action even more than evangelism. His vigorous role of leader- 
ship in evangelical missions over the past several years has gained him 
a place of prominence and respect in both Europe and America. If his 
new message is followed, evangelism in the Third World will suffer a 
devastating blow. 


This article constitutes a selective review of some of John R. W. 
Stott's teaching on social action. The study of his "Cornerstone" 
articles in Christianity Today causes concern for the future of 
Christian missions. The increasing number of articles in Christianity 
Today and other Christian periodicals dealing with social and eco- 
nomic issues would seem to indicate that this new shift in emphasis is 
not limited to John Stott. 

The allegation of Arthur Johnston that "Stott has dethroned 
evangelism as the only historical aim for mission" 57 is more evident 
today than in 1978. The present writings of Stott confirm Johnston's 
observation beyond question. Unless Stott and the Lausanne trend 
are checked, the true biblical missionary will become a very small 

56 lbid. 

"Johnston, The Battle for World Evangelism, 303. 


Donald B. DeYoung and John C. Whitcomb 

The currently popular theory of the origin of the universe held 
by the vast majority of astronomers involves a gigantic explosion of 
matter and energy about twenty billion years ago (the "big bang" 
theory) with subsequent cosmic expansion and evolution. The au- 
thors examine this cosmogony from both scientific (empirical) and 
biblical (exegetical) perspectives and conclude that it does not fit the 
facts of general and special revelation. 

The dominant theme in astronomy today is that the universe was 
spontaneously born out of chaos. This "big bang" interpretation 
assumes that an immense explosion of mass-energy took place about 
fifteen billion years ago. Ever since, we are told, fragments of matter 
and even space itself have been expanding outward like a fireworks 
display. Stars and galaxies, planets and people are said to have 
gradually formed from these fragments in a purely mechanistic 

However, in spite of the current popularity of this theory, the 
dramatic beginning of the universe which the "big bang" assumes has 
proven to be an embarrassment to many cosmologists. Where did the 
initial mass-energy come from? What caused it to become unstable 
and begin to expand? Natural science simply does not have answers 
to these fundamental questions. Some scientists have desperately tried 
to avoid the entire question of ultimate origins by appealing to 
oscillating or steady state models of the universe which have neither a 
beginning nor an end. However, neither of these perpetual motion 
models is conformable to the presently known laws of physics. Others 
have tried to read the first verses of Genesis directly into the big bang 
theory. For example, the American astronomer Robert Jastrow feels 
that God somehow orchestrated the explosion as the Divine method 
of creation. This is an unsatisfactory compromise, as admitted by 
Jastrow in the beginning of his book, God and the Astronomers: 


It should be understood from the start that I am an agnostic in 
religious matters. 1 

Harvard astronomer Steven Weinberg, one of the leading propo- 
nents of the big bang, echoes this same frustration: 

Can we really be sure of the standard [big bang] model? Will new 
discoveries overthrow it and replace the present standard model with 
some other cosmogony, or even revive the steady-state model? Per- 
haps. I cannot deny a feeling of unreality in writing about the first 
three minutes [of the universe] as if we really know what we are talking 
about. 2 

The more the universe seems comprehensible (via the big bang) the 
more it also seems pointless. 3 

The big bang theory continues to lead many others to this same 
despairing view of the origin and purpose of the universe. 

From a biblical standpoint, such frustration is perfectly under- 
standable, and for two prominent reasons. First, the concept of a 
living, personal, all-knowing, all-powerful and transcendent God is 
almost totally absent from the thinking of modern cosmologists. 
Faith in such a God has been replaced by faith in chance through 
time. All that is really left, however, according to the title of one of 
Isaac Asimov's latest books, is "A Choice of Catastrophes." 4 

Secondly, even the knowledge that a personal God rules the 
universe does not necessarily remove all human fear. Though he 
possessed a profound knowledge of God, David, overwhelmed by the 
magnitude and silence of the universe around him, could ask, "What 
is man that Thou dost take thought of him?" (Ps 8:5-8). 5 Thus, a 
confidence that God truly exists must be coupled with a deep 
confidence that he has revealed his clear plan and purpose for men in 
the words of holy Scripture. "We have the prophetic word made more 
sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a 
dark place" (2 Pet 1:19). 


Two discoveries have helped promote the big bang theory in 
recent years. The first is a measured redshift in the light radiated from 

'R. Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975) 11. 

2 S. Weinberg, The First Three Minutes (New York: Basic Books, 1977) 9. 

3 Ibid., 154. 

I. Asimov, A Choice of Catastrophes: Tiie Disasters That Threaten Our World 
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979). 

All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, ® The 
Lockman Foundation. 

deyoung/whitcomb: origin of the universe 151 

distant stars. This property of starlight is similar to the lowering in 
pitch of a departing train whistle, also known as the Doppler Effect. 
Light waves from most stars are found to be stretched out and 
therefore reddened as if the stars were moving away from the earth at 
various rates of speed. According to a basic assumption called the 
cosmological principle, the stars would show an identical expansion 
from any vantage point in the universe. Thus the light wave shift is 
taken as direct evidence of a big bang explosion in the remote past. 

However, there are a variety of other recognized explanations for 
the stellar redshift which do not require any explosion or expansion 
of the universe. For example, light waves can also be reddened by 
gravity, the attractive force between all matter in the universe. This 
gravitational effect on light, first predicted by Einstein in 1912, can be 
demonstrated in laboratory experiments with Mossbauer Spectros- 
copy. 6 Interestingly, if the earth happened to be positioned at the 
precise geometric center of the entire physical universe, the surround- 
ing symmetric sphere of stars and galaxies would exactly produce the 
redshift that we observe today. 7 This alternative is not a revival of 
historic geocentricism, since the earth in such a position could still 
rotate upon its axis and revolve around the sun. Although not 
essential to a biblical view of creation, this possibility of a special 
location of planet earth is intriguing in view of the special emphasis 
given to the earth throughout the Scripture. 

The second discovery supporting a big bang is the presence of 
weak microwave radiation throughout space. It was first detected by 
A. Penzias and R. Wilson of Bell Laboratories, who subsequently 
received the Nobel Physics Prize in 1978 for their work. 8 This 
background radiation is found to have a characteristic temperature 
just three degrees above absolute zero. It is interpreted as a "last 
fading ember" from the great explosion itself, and was actually 
predicted by the big bang theorist George Gamow three decades ago. 
As with the redshift, however, there are a variety of other possible 
sources for these detected microwaves. They may be radiated from 
distant regions of the universe, perhaps from certain varieties of stars. 
The physical universe is permeated with a complex variety of waves 
and particles, including cosmic rays, whose origin and purpose we 
simply don't know at this time. To claim that the microwave back- 
ground is fossil radiation from a big bang explosion is a biased inter- 
pretation based on an unwarranted extrapolation into the past. In 

R. Pound and G. A. Rebka, Jr., "Gravitational Red-Shift in Nuclear Resonance," 
Physical Review Letters (1959) 439. 

7 P. C. W. Davies, "Cosmic Heresy," Nature 273 (June 1, 1978) 336. 

R. W. Wilson, "The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation," Science 205: 
4409 (August 31, 1979) 866-74. 


conclusion, the two major evidences for the big bang, redshift of 
starlight and background radiation, are by no means conclusive. 


Although the big bang theory is recognized today by the major- 
ity of scientists as the final and correct view of cosmic origins, it 
actually is faced with a number of difficult and fundamental prob- 
lems. There are several "missing links" in the theory. 

Consider first the concept of missing mass. If an expanding 
universe were to consist of sufficient material and unlimited time, 
gravity would eventually stop the outward motion and pull every- 
thing back together again into a cataclysmic fireball. This might even 
lead to a rebounding universe with endless expansions and contrac- 
tions. As mentioned earlier, many scientists find this oscillating 
universe idea attractive since it postpones the embarrassment of 
explaining an ultimate origin and a final destiny for the universe. 

However, recent data reveals that there is simply not enough 
material in space to draw the universe back upon itself. The mass 
density of the universe is too small by a factor of one hundred. 9 
Desperate attempts to locate this "missing mass" in the form of 
neutrinos or black holes remain speculative. The universe is found to 
be "open" and not in an eternal state of alternating expansion and 
collapse. This conclusion is in agreement with a one-time creation 
origin, even though it is the authors' position that no random big 
bang explosion ever occurred. 

Time is another missing link in the big bang theory. Many 
observations indicate a recent creation of the universe, only thou- 
sands of years ago instead of the assumed billions of years of history. 
These observations include studies of comets, galaxy shapes, and 
individual stars. 10 A complex theoretical cycle of evolution has been 
established for the stars. They are assumed to form initially within 
vast clouds of gas and dust by gravitational contraction. Then they 
mature slowly through stages called protostars, main sequence stars, 
red giants, and finally white dwarf stars. A billion-year time scale is 
assumed for these changes as the stars power themselves by nuclear 
fusion. Our own sun is thought to have five billion more years .of 
steady light as a main sequence star before it swells into its red giant 
phase and extinguishes life on earth. Even so, the sun has a very short 
life compared to the time span of the big bang. It is called a second or 
third generation star, not having formed until long after the initial 

N. A. Pananides and T. Amy, Introductory Astronomy (Reading, MA: Addison- 
Wesley, 1979) 321. 

H. S. Slusher, Age of the Cosmos (San Diego: Institute for Creation Research, 

deyoung/whitcomb: origin of the universe 153 

Historical records of the star Sirius B, however, tell a different 
story. This binary star of Sirius A has visibly and unexplainably 
changed from a red giant star to a white dwarf within only a 
thousand-year period. 11 The star is evidently decaying on a time scale 
which is much shorter than current theory indicates. This finding is 
appropriately called a "Sirius problem"! The giant star Betelgeuse, 
among others, has also shown color changes during recorded his- 
tory. 12 Such findings challenge the vast time scales assumed for the 
life cycle of stars, a time scale required by a big bang. 

Even our own star, the sun, has recently raised serious questions 
about the assumptions of time and stellar energy. It has been taught 
for a half-century that the sun heats itself by way of nuclear fusion, 
converting hydrogen into helium. Such a reaction should also pro- 
duce an intense flood of sub-atomic particles called neutrinos. Cur- 
rent experiments are underway to detect these solar neutrinos and 
verify the theoretical nuclear reactions. After ten years of careful 
searching, the result is that the particles cannot be found. 13 

Could it be that the sun is producing energy by some other 
mechanism than by nuclear fusion? The next most likely source of 
solar energy would be a gravitational contraction of the sun, first 
proposed by Helmholtz a century ago. Since this type of mechanism 
cannot possibly exist on a billion-year time scale, it has been totally 
rejected by modern astronomy. 14 However, the problem of missing 
neutrinos may well be a testimony to a recent creation of the sun. 
Solar physicist John Eddy concludes: 

I suspect that the sun is 4.5 billion years old. However, given some new 
and unexpected results to the contrary, and some time for frantic 
recalculation and theoretical readjustment, I suspect that we could live 
with Bishop Ussher's value for the age of the Earth and Sun. I don't 
think we have much in the way of observational evidence in astronomy 
to conflict with that. 15 

"R. G. Kazmann, "It's About Time: 4.5 Billion Years," Geotimes 11 (September, 
1978) 18. 

12 D. E. Thomsen, "Color Changes on a Scale of Centuries," Science 1 17:4 
(January 26, 1980) 56. Cf. "A Very Rapidly Evolving Star," Sky and Telescope 596 
(June, 1980) 462. 

B. G. Levi, "Solar-Neutrino Hunters Still Seek Explanation," Physics Today 
31:12 (December, 1978) 19-20. 

Pananides and Amy, Introductory Astronomy, 255. 

15 Kazmann, "It's About Time: 4.5 Billion Years," 18. James Ussher (1581-1656), a 
brilliant Irish archbishop, concluded, on the basis of his analysis of biblical genealogies, 
that the world was created in 4004 B.C. For evidence that these genealogies may point 
to a somewhat earlier date for creation (perhaps 8,000-10,000 B.C.), see J. C. Whitcomb 
and H. M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 
1961) 474-89. 


There is also a missing explanation for the initial formation of 
stars. Calculations originally done a century ago by the creationist 
scientist, James Clerk Maxwell, show that a gas cloud in space will 
simply not collapse by itself into a star. 16 Instead, gas dissipates 
outward due to thermal pressure in accordance with the second law 
of thermodynamics, the universal tendency toward disorder. This is 
exactly what is observed for gaseous nebulas in space — they are 
spreading out rather than contracting. 

To circumvent this natural formation problem, it is proposed 
that gases may be squeezed together by nearby exploding stars called 
supernovas. 17 This interesting explanation says that stars form from 
stars! But if the universe began with a big bang explosion, how could 
the first stars possibly originate? Furthermore, supernovas are a rare 
phenomenon, unable to produce the vast number of stars visible. The 
last supernova observed in our galaxy was recorded by Kepler in 
1604. This fundamental star origin problem extends even to the 
makeup of our own bodies. Big bang calculations show that only the 
simple elements hydrogen and helium could possibly form in space 
following such an explosion, and even then, only after 700,000 
years! 18 All the varieties of atoms other than hydrogen and helium 
can naturally form only within the cores of mature stars, assuming 
nuclear fusion is occurring. Thus, if a big bang cannot produce stars 
to begin with, it also cannot produce the atoms of which we ourselves 
are made up! 

Biblical chronology fixes the creation of stars after the creation 
of the planet earth and before the creation of the human race, within 
a 24-hour period. Some have objected that Gen 1:16 does not state 
that the stars were "created" (K13), but merely that they were "made" 
(!"IU7J7). But this does not produce a significant distinction of meaning 
in the context of Genesis 1. The two terms are used interchangeably 
in creation contexts elsewhere. For example, marine creatures were 
"created" (N"I2) on the fifth day, but land animals were "made" (HEW) 
on the sixth day. Obviously, no distinction is intended. 19 

Biblical revelation points clearly to a completed creation, with no 
new materials or basic kinds of things being added from time to time. 

G. Mulfinger, "Critique of Stellar Evolution," Creation Research Society Quar- 
terly 7:1 (June, 1970) 7-24. 

W. Herbst and G. E. Assousa, "Supernovas and Star Formation," Scientific 
American 241:2 (August, 1979) 138-45. 

18 H. L. Shipman, Black Holes, Quasars, and the Universe (Boston: Houghton- 
Mifflin, 1976) 232. 

''Compare also Gen 1:26 with 1:27, Gen 2:4a with 2:4b, Gen 1:1 with Exod 20:11, 
and Gen 1:16 with Ps 148:3-5 and Isa 40:26 (where we learn that stars were "created" — 
N"D). For a more detailed analysis of this question, see J. C. Whitcomb and D. B. 

deyoung/ whitcomb: origin of the universe 155 

"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 
And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had 
done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He 
had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, 
because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and 
made" (Gen 2:1-3; cf. Exod 20:8-11; 31:17). The author of Hebrews 
presupposes a literal interpretation of Gen 2:1-3 when he builds his 
argument for the necessity of entering into God's completed work of 
salvation (Heb 4:4, 10). 20 

So far from evolving into higher and higher levels of cosmic 
complexity, the stars we observe appear to be slowly dying out one by 
one. As they exhaust their nuclear fuel, some stars contract into 
burned out cinders. Ones with a mass greater than 1 .4 times that of 
the sun may die violently in infrequent supernova explosions. Still 
larger stars (3 or more times as heavy as the sun) may collapse 
without limit under the force of gravity. Calculations indicate that 
their size should decrease to that of the earth, then a baseball, and 
finally to a mere point! 21 Thus, some stars may eventually collapse 
out of sight and into the speculative realm of black holes in space. 
Any object trespassing within the gravity grasp of such a black hole 
would be permanently captured. Do black holes really exist? Evi- 
dence remains uncertain; none have been clearly detected. However, 
the idea is in keeping with the observed rapid unwinding and decay- 
ing of all things in the universe. 

All of this is in complete harmony with the inspired statements 
of the psalmist written 3000 years ago: "Of old, Thou didst found the 
earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will 
perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a 
garment; like clothing, Thou wilt change them, and they will be 
changed" (Ps 102:25-26; quoted in Heb 1:10-12, cf. Luke 21:33). More 
than 200 years later, the prophet Isaiah confirmed this analysis of 
universal processes which we now describe in terms of the Second 
Law of Thermodynamics: "Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to 

DeYoung, The Moon: Its Creation, Form and Significance (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 
1978) 72, n. 31. For the theological significance of the creation of the sun and moon 
after the creation of life on the earth, see ibid., 153-55. If the sun and moon were 
created after the earth, nothing is gained toward a harmonization of Genesis 1 with 
evolutionary cosmogonies by stretching the creation days to long ages. For biblical 
evidence for twenty-four-hour creation days, see ibid., 76-83. 

"The labors from which God rests are the works of creation; but he continues to 
be active in providence, in judgment, and in grace" (P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on 
the Epistle to the Hebrews [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977] 161). Cf. R. C. H. Lenski, 
Interpretation of Hebrews/ James (Columbus, OH: Wartburg, 1946) 132, 133. 
21 Pananides and Amy, Introductory Astronomy, 266-67. 


the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth 
will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die in like 
manner" (Isa 51:6a). Thus, the non-technical but completely accurate 
perspectives of Scripture combine with the detailed and prolonged 
empirical observations of science to contradict the evolutionary pre- 
suppositions of the currently popular big bang theory of the origin of 
the universe. 


An intense search is underway to find life in space. If this 
universe and life itself began with a spontaneous explosion, many 
then reason that life must also have arisen in countless other places. 
A typical astronomy text reads: 

If any planet has surface conditions suitable or at least tolerable to any 
terrestrial organisms, life may be assumed to have developed there. 22 

Even more dogmatic is the 1976 pronouncement of Robert K. G. 
Temple, author and researcher: 

An attitude which asserts that man is the only intelligent life form in 
the universe is intolerably arrogant. Anyone holding such an opinion 
today is an intellectual freak. 23 

Massive books have been written on the general subject of alien 
life in space, called exo-biology, without a shred of supporting data. 
Man seems determined to prove that he is the result of blind chance 
rather than a special creation! For twenty years, radio telescopes have 
been searching deep space for intelligent signals. The results so far 
point to a final missing link in big bang cosmogony, namely, that of 
no life in space. Probes sent to the moon, Mars, Venus, and the 
moons of Jupiter have revealed hostile, sterile surfaces. Where is 
everybody? It is not surprising that there is a growing feeling among 
astronomers that man may be alone in the universe after all: 

There is a deeply ingrained conviction in the great majority of man- 
kind, to which the appeal of science fiction and fantasy bears witness, 
that the universe is so constituted that if an opportunity exists for life 
to originate, it will be actualized, and if an opportunity exists for 
hominids to evolve, that too will be actualized. Whatever may be the 

22 V. A. Firsoff, Mind and Galaxies (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1967) 58. 

23 R. K. G. Temple as quoted by J. Oberg, "Alone Again: UFO Update," Omni 2:5 
(Feb., 1980) 32. 

24 C. Sagan and I. S. Shklovskii, Intelligent Life in the Universe (San Francisco: 
Holden-Day, 1966). 

deyoung/ whitcomb: origin of the universe 157 

basis for such convictions, it clearly must be sought outside the domain 
of science. The most this study has been able to establish is that even 
the opportunity for such achievements occurs quite rarely among the 
vast profusion of forms in which matter is consolidated in the uni- 
verse. 25 

Could it be that life exists uniquely on the earth because God created 
it here and nowhere else? 

Because of the obvious failure to find any evidence of intelligent 
physical life outside of the planet earth, a two-day symposium was 
held at the University of Maryland late in 1978 to explore the topic, 
"Implications of Our Failure to Observe Extra-Terrestrials." In an 
article describing this symposium, James Oberg commented that this 
topic "was bound to be provocative. For most of those attending, the 
implications were clear: since we haven't seen any trace of [extra- 
terrestrials], either they aren't there or there is something fundamen- 
tally wrong with our comprehension of the universe." 26 

There are a number of biblical indications that point clearly in 
the direction of the absolute uniqueness of physical life on the earth. 
Psalm 115 focuses our attention upon the uniqueness of our God as 
creator and controller of the universe in total contrast to the man- 
made deities that characterize pagan religions. The Psalmist climaxes 
his message with this statement in v 16: "The heavens are the heavens 
of the Lord; but the earth He has given to the sons of men." A valid 
implication of this inspired statement is that those who truly know 
the Lord cannot possibly be threatened by anything that is in the 
universe beyond. In other words, the only "extra-terrestrial intelli- 
gence" men need to be deeply concerned about is the intelligence of 
God Himself, as revealed in his Word. 

Isa 45:18 adds significant light to this fascinating question: "For 
thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens (He is the God who 
formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a 
waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), 'I am the Lord, and there 
is none else.'" Since the Hebrew word Tltri, translated here "a waste 
place," also appears in Gen 1:2, this statement in Isa 45:18 has 
frequently been used to support the so-called Gap Theory interpreta- 
tion. This view maintains that God created an originally perfect earth 
(Gen 1:1), which later became "a waste place" because of the fall of 
Satan. Then, millions or billions of years later, the earth was re- 
created in six literal days. However, this is really not the thrust of 
Isaiah's statement. Isaiah is saying that God did not create the earth 

25 W. G. Pollard, "The Prevalence of Earthlike Planets," American Scientist 67:7 
(November-December, 1979) 653. 

26 J. Oberg, "Alone Again: UFO Update," Omni 2:5 (Feb., 1980) 32. 


to be a waste place, but created it to be inhabited (in contrast to all 
other planets). As we turn to Genesis chapter one, we discover that is 
the way the earth was created. It was not created to remain empty, 
but within six brief days to be fully inhabited. 

In comparing the statement of Isa 45:18 with Gen 1:2, Edward J. 
Young comments: 

Isaiah does not deny that the earth was once a tohu: his point is that 
the Lord did not create the earth to be a tohu, for an earth of tohu is 
one that cannot be inhabited, and has not fulfilled the purpose for 
which it was created. The purpose rather was that the earth might be 
inhabited. 27 

If intelligent physical life exists only on the earth, the question 
must be asked, "Why do countless stars and galaxies exist throughout 
the universe? Many Christians have asked, "Why would God go to all 
the work of creating billions of galaxies and then put life on only one 
comparatively small planet?" In answer to this question, it must be 
recognized, first of all, that it required no more exertion of energy for 
God to create a trillion galaxies than to create one planet. "Do you 
not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the 
creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His 
understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to 
him who lacks might He increases power" (Isa 40:28-29). 

God has condescended to give to men three basic reasons for his 
work of creating the stellar universe. "Let them be for signs, and for 
seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for light in the 
expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth" (Gen 1:14-15). The 
three stated purposes for the existence of the universe, as far as man 
is concerned, are: (1) signs, (2) a clock-calendar system, and (3) 
illumination by day and by night for earth dwellers. A fourth reason 
is conspicuous for its absence, namely, platforms for extra-terrestrial 
intelligent physical beings. The sign-value of the stellar universe is 
clearly emphasized in Psalm 8, Ps 19:1-2 and Rom 1:18-19. God 
apparently considers these three basic purposes sufficient for the 
creation of the stellar universe, and therefore it is unnecessary to 
multiply reasons beyond God's statement in Scripture. 

27 E. J. Young, Commentary on the Book of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1972), 3. 211. Some commentators have questioned the meaning of "a waste place" for 
Tnn in Isa 45:18, because the following verse demands the idea of "in vain" for this 
term. Young pointed out, however, that "despite this slight modification of connota- 
tion, it is correct to say that as God's creation was not for the purpose of being a tohu, 
so also His revelation is not a tohu but fulfills its purpose. The difference in 
connotation is not as great as at first sight appears" (3. 212). 

deyoung/ whitcomb: origin of the universe 159 

The most significant biblical evidence for the uniqueness of life 
on the earth is the incarnation and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 
The second person of the triune God, through whom the entire 
universe was brought into existence (John 1:1-3, Col 1:16-17, Heb 
1:1-2), became a permanent member of the human race by incarna- 
tion (John 1:14). The staggering implication of this fact dare not be 
minimized by those who profess to be Bible-believing Christians. 
There is not a shred of evidence in Scripture that the first coming of 
Christ was a comparatively insignificant event in the career of the 
Son of God, stopping briefly on earth, as it were, on his way to other 
planets and galaxies to carry on a cosmic ministry of revelation and 
redemption. The great Creator who became our Savior also told us to 
pray: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy 
kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven" (Matt 
6:9-10). The earth, not some other planet, will be the location of 
Christ's Kingdom. 

In isolation, not one of these biblical evidences is sufficient in 
itself to demonstrate the uniqueness of life on earth. However, in a 
book that professes to give to men all that is necessary for our 
understanding of life and the universe, it is highly significant that not 
one word is given that would support the concept of extra-terrestrial 
intelligent life. Secular scientism is haunted by the fear that we are 
totally alone in the universe. But this is not the biblical perspective at 
all. Many millions of spirit beings, called angels, are deeply involved 
in the affairs of men (e.g., Dan 10:20, Luke 20:36, Heb 1:14). 
Infinitely above all of these invisible and powerful creatures, however, 
is God, the creator of all things, who has revealed himself to men as 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

God created men in such a way that they cannot find full and 
deep satisfaction apart from him. Utterly frustrated by the inequities 
and frustrations of this life, a psalmist by the name of Asaph entered 
into the sanctuary of God, and thus gained a totally new perspective 
on the world (Ps 73:17). He concluded with these inspired words: 
"With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterward receive me to 
glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire 
nothing on earth" (Ps 73:24-25). The ultimate tragedy of cosmic 
evolutionism is that it virtually ignores the very God who created us 
to find our fulfillment in him alone. The secular scientific establish- 
ment, with its big bang cosmogony, has deliberately rejected the 
Christ "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowl- 
edge" (Col 2:3). In all of their vaunted brilliance, men are bypassing 
the Son of God "in whom all the fulness of the Deity dwells in bodily 
form," for "in Him," the apostle Paul asserts, "you have been made 


complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority" (Col 2:9- 
10). To the Christian, the universe is not meaningless. We are not 


The big bang theory, aside from the multiple problems of 
missing links in astronomy, clearly and directly contradicts the order 
of creation events in Genesis 1. Thus, there is no legitimate way of 
harmonizing the big bang theory with a Christian theistic view. 
Christian theism presupposes the authority and infallibility of the 
Bible. An honest and consistent application of hermeneutical princi- 
ples in analyzing the biblical record of ultimate origins leads one to a 
complete impasse in accommodating it with the most popular cos- 
mogonical theory of our generation. Theistic evolutionists speak 
much of God (or "a god"); but they apparently have not heard the 
clear message of his Word. 

In contrast to the six-day creation period of Genesis, for exam- 
ple, the big-bang concept does not envision even such simple elements 
as hydrogen and helium appearing until about 700,000 years after the 
explosion. Stars did not form for perhaps another billion years. How 
can this be reconciled with the declaration of God that the planet 
earth was created before the stars? (Cf. n. 19.) 

The big bang theory postpones man's appearance until twenty 
billion years of apparently purposeless natural processes have run 
their course. But the Genesis record depicts man as the true king of 
the earth at the very beginning of earth history, exercising dominion 
over all animals, including those in the depths of the seas (Gen 1:26- 
28; cf. Ps 8:5-8), within a matter of hours of their creation. Even the 
stars of the heavens antedated man by the space of only two days 
(Gen 1:19, 31; cf. Exod 20:11), for they had no independent purpose 
of existence. They were created for the Son of God (Col 1:16) and for 
those who have been created and renewed in his image (1 Cor 3:21- 
23; Col 3:10). They did not wait billions of years to accomplish what 
they were created for, namely, to serve as "signs" to men of God's 
creative wisdom (Gen 1:14; Rom 1:20). Only by denying the clear 
testimony of the chronological sequences of Genesis can one speak in 
terms of a "theistic big bang." 28 

28 N. L. Geisler is one of several evangelical theologians who accept the "theistic big 
bang" concept. Geisler is convinced that "the big bang theory is in amazing accord with 
the creation account of Gen. 1:1," and feels that it provides "overwhelming scientific 
evidence for creation (as recorded in Gen. 1:1)." Review of R. Jastrow, God and the 
Astronomers, in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22 (1979) 282-84. 

deyoung/whitcomb: origin of the universe 161 


A specific description of origins cannot be proved by science, 
whether a random explosion or a supernatural creation. The origin of 
the universe is a single past event. Thus, it is not subject to the 
scientific method of testing and reproducing. As God asked Job long 
ago, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth! Tell 
Me, if you have understanding" (Job 38:4). Today science is de- 
pended upon for a great variety of answers, including origins. How- 
ever, there is much more at stake here than the latest temporary 
theories of man. A deep personal faith is required, either in a random 
big bang or in an orderly creation by the God of the universe. But 
these alternative faith commitments cannot be equal options for men 
who bear the image of God indelibly imprinted upon their innermost 
being. The God of creation simply will not allow himself to be 
compared with any other "deity," including evolutionary time/chance: 
" To whom then will you liken Me that I should be his equal?' says 
the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created the 
stars, the One who leads forth their host by number. He calls them all 
by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of 
His power . . ." (Isa 40:25-26). 



Ronald E. Manahan 

A striking feature of the Jeremiah material is the inclusion of 
numerous quotations attributed to the prophet 's audience. A survey 
of these materials shows that these quotations, whether verbatim or 
"constructed" to reflect truthfully the collective expressions and senti- 
ments of the audience, occur in four contexts: (1) accusation, (2) 
announcement, (3) personal confrontation, and (4) invitation. Study 
of these contexts demonstrates the degree and longevity of opposition 
to the prophet 's ministry. The audience is depicted as overtly empha- 
sizing Zion's inviolability and as unduly attached to externals (ark, 
temple, Law, king, etc.). Quotations of audience reaction in Jeremiah 
articulate the theological divergency of his audience. In every age the 
audience speaks its mind, declaring its theological tenets. Jeremiah 
knew what his audience said and spoke directly to the issues. Simi- 
larly the contemporary church must know and speak God's Word. 
The question is: What is the audience declaring today? 

IN an earlier article this writer studied Jeremiah's employment of 
seemingly direct quotations of pseudoprophets. 1 In the process of 
that study, it also became apparent that the text of the book 
contained an even higher number of quotations, originating with the 
prophet's audience. These quotations serve as a major element in the 
audience reaction to Jeremiah's ministry. Overholt has recently esti- 
mated the number of such quotations to be "approximately 100 .. . 

'R. E. Manahan, "A Theology of Pseudoprophets: A Study in Jeremiah," GTJ 1 
(1980) 77-96. 


distributed fairly evenly throughout the book." 2 So common a liter- 
ary feature is deserving of serious study. 3 

What legitimate expectations might there be for such a study? 
One matter is certain: placing side by side the contrasting words of 
Jeremiah and his audience helps to clarify what theological issues 
were at stake in his era of history. 4 Such knowledge helps to sensitize 
and elucidate nuances of meaning in the Jeremiah material that 
otherwise might have been unnoticed. This background information 
itself proves helpful for further study of the book. 

Further, such study helps to identify what theological deviations 
led to the apostasy of Judah in her waning years. 5 The audience 
spoke its mind, and what it said articulated its beliefs. Collation of 
these findings ought to furnish materials for understanding the essen- 
tial tenets of popular theology. If this alone were the yield of this 
analysis, it would prove a worthwhile endeavor. Moreover, one may 

2 T. W. Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,' " CBQ 41 
(1979) 262. While from this writer's study Overholt's number appears to be a fair 
approximation, he nowhere cites the 100 or so references, nor does he indicate his 
definition of a quotation. Such a definition is necessary for the isolation and identifica- 
tion of quoted material. 

3 Even recent studies in other areas of research are indicating what valuable 
contributions can be made by analyzing audience reaction. In particular note J.-P. 
Van Noppen ("A Method for the Evaluation of Recipient Response," BT 30 [1979] 
30 1 ff .) and a new work to be published by T. E. Gregory (Vox Populi [Columbus: 
Ohio State University, n.d.]). This latter work will maintain that it was not until the 
beginning of the present century that, largely as a result of the influence of Marxist 
thought, historians began to pay serious attention to the role of the crowd in antiquity. 

4 This point is maintained (though from a radically different perspective) in another 
context by R. Davidson ("Orthodoxy and the Prophetic Word," VT 14 [1964] 408). He 
understands that an adequate exploration of the relationship between Yahweh's word 
and the religious orthodoxy (for this writer, apostasy) of the day demands fulfillment 
of two conditions: "1) There must be a prophet locked in conflict with the religious 
establishment and providing us with sufficient information to sketch clearly the major 
issues at stake. 2) We must have access to the orthodox standpoint independent of that 
provided by the prophetic criticism." 

5 That apostasy is the issue is indicated by Jeremiah's use of HDTU77P, meaning 
"faithlessness, defection, apostasy"; cf. W. L. Holladay (ed.), A Concise Hebrew and 
Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 218. Of the 
dozen occurrences of this term in the OT Jeremiah uses the term in 2:19; 3:6, 8, 11, 12, 
22; 5:6; 8:5; 14:7. Of these usages, a recurring phrase is bjnfeP HD^?? (NASB, 
"faithless Israel"; cf. 3:6, 8, 11, 12). This phrasing would indicate that rather early in his 
ministry Jeremiah understood the nature of the audience's theological and experiential 
deviation. This, of course, is understood on the assumption that the section Jeremiah 
1-20 generally represents the period of Josiah's reign; cf. L. J. Wood, The Prophets of 
Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 339, who follows the lead of E. J. Young 
(Introduction to the Old Testament, 225-29). For an alternate viewpoint note R. K. 
Harrison (Jeremiah and Lamentations [Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; Downers 
Grove: Inter- Varsity, 1972] 33). 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 165 

assume achievement of the above expectations to aid in understand- 
ing something of the very nature and method of theological deviation 
in any age. And just here the applicational nature of this study rests. 
What Jeremiah sensed and reacted to serves as forewarning that 
contemporary audience reaction may articulate its own popular theol- 
ogy, a theology out of sorts with historic orthodoxy. 

But these expectations require at least a sense of the nature of 
the political environs of Jeremiah's age. His age was a political 
hurricane, enfolding in its swirl nations of less might and scattering 
political debris in unexpected ways. Judah found itself in the midst of 
the storm, political uncertainties all around. Jeremiah's book records 
the protracted agony of Judah's political fate. All this political 
agitation and uncertainty left its mark on the response of Jeremiah's 
hearers. 6 

The scope of this study prohibits any treatment of textual 
problems in the book of Jeremiah, unless they raise an interpretive 
question in relevant materials. There exist a number of more exten- 
sive treatments of textual matters relating to the book. 7 Yet, the 
assumption is that the text must be taken seriously. 8 When citing the 
English translation of the text, the NASB will be used unless other- 
wise noted. 



An immediate concern of methodology is first to define impor- 
tant terms. In this study that must include a definition of "quotation" 
and "audience reaction." 

6 For a helpful summation of the political crisis note W. C. Klein ("Commentary 
on Jeremiah," ATR 45 [1963] 122). For an excellent treatment of the correlation 
between theological conceptions and the state of Judah note C. E. Tilson ("False 
Prophets in the Old Testament" [Ph.D. dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1951], 
especially pages 303ff.). 

7 Note especially J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1965); and J. 
G. Janzen, Studies in the Text of Jeremiah (HSM 6; Cambridge: Harvard University, 
1973). There are recent articles such as that of E. Tov ("Exegetical Notes on the 
Hebrew Vorlage of the LXX of Jeremiah 27 (34)," ZAW 91 [1979] 73-93). 

Of course, the underlying assumption of this paper is that the corpus of material 
that has come down to the contemporary world is the context for this investigation. 
The effort of this study is not to discuss the matter of the multitude of explanations for 
how this book came to be. Harrison {Jeremiah and Lamentations, 27) comments: "It is 
now increasingly realized that the extant writings of the prophets actually comprise 
anthologies of their utterances, and the book of Jeremiah is no exception to this 
general principle." Such being the case the text of Jeremiah has been searched time and 
again for clues as to possible sources for the material. Beginning with Duhm and 


Quotation. Robert Gordis some time ago noted the difficulty in 
identifying quotations in the biblical record. Quite simply, "These 
quotations are naturally not indicated by a system of punctuation, 
which did not exist in ancient times, and often they may lack an 
introductory verb of speaking or thinking." 9 The reader of the 
biblical record must supply quotation marks where the sense demands 
hem. This, of course, demands careful attention to the sense of the 
passage and its intended structure within its context. 10 Attendant to 
this rather complex task is the sobering matter of knowing if a given 
quotation is a verbatim citation of a speaker's actual words or the 
hearer's verbalization of the speaker's thought. Here again the sur- 
rounding of a text serves as the best guide for determining the nature 
of the quoted material. 

Given these problems in identifying quotations, the reader must 
develop a definition of a quotation that will serve well in isolating 
quoted materials. Gordis suggests that a "quotation" refers to "words 
which do not reflect the present sentiments of the author of the 
literary composition in which they are found, but have been intro- 
duced by the author to convey the standpoint of another person or 
situation." 11 He understands this definition to include both actual 
words and thoughts of the speaker. Generally, his definition is 

But in the case of Jeremiah's book there is considerable textual 
help in aiding this broad definition. The book possesses numerous 
verbatim citations of speakers or verbalizations consistent with their 
thought. Such an abundance of material helps the interpreter more 
easily check his identification of a given quotation against numerous 
other instances in the same body of literature. 

Another feature of the book is its insistence on clarifying the 
views of the audience. The book repeatedly articulates from Yahweh's 
perspective the pulse of audience thought and life. This helps one 
know what to expect the audience to say. This sensitizing to the 
theological tension between Jeremiah and his audience enables the 

Mowinckel, attempts have followed (cf. ibid., 27-34 for an adequate survey of more 
recent discussion on the authorship of the book). Note the casual way in which W. J. 
Horwitz ("Audience Reaction to Jeremiah," CBQ 32 [1970] 555) begins his article: "It 
is generally recognized that three major sources, designated A, B, and C, have 
preserved material from the prophet Jeremiah or concerning him." 

9 R. Gordis, Poets, Prophets, and Sages: Essays in Biblical Interpretation (Bloom- 
ington: Indiana University, 1971) 108-9. Cf. also Gordis, The Book of God and Man 
(Chicago: University of Chicago, 1965) 169ff. 

10 Ibid., 109: "That the passage is indeed a quotation must be understood by the 
reader, who is called upon in Semitic literature to supply not only punctuation but 
vocalization as well." 


manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 167 

contemporary reader to know where in the reading of the book a 
quotation is more likely to occur (as an example, 3:22-25). To 
reiterate, a quotation must be identified by a careful reading of the 
text, watching for textual indicators of quoted material. The reader of 
the book is aided by overt statements interpreting the nature of 
Jeremiah's hearers. This helps the reader know what content to 
expect in a quotation. 

However, it is not always possible to determine if the quotation 
of the audience is intended to be a verbatim citation or a paraphrase 
of the speaker's thought. In fact, as Overholt points out, H. W. Wolff 
in his Das Zitat im Prophetenspruch observed "that quotations in the 
prophetic literature are usually attributed to groups of opponents, 
and are sometimes strange enough (e.g., the quotation of future 
words) to suggest that they are homiletical devices." 12 The attributing 
of a quotation to a group must be a rhetorical device in which the 
prophet constructs a "composite quotation" that truthfully represents 
the expressions of the audience. 

A definition of "quotation" must include breadth enough for 
inclusion of both the author's direct citation of a speaker and 
construction of a "composite quotation" to reflect truthfully the 
collective expressions and sentiments of the audience. Above all, the 
definition must be accompanied by a rejection of any type of histori- 
cism that claims to identify infallibly all quotations, or finds quota- 
tions where context argues against, or in this case, finds quotations 
that argue against the interpretation of the audience given elsewhere 
in the book. 13 

Audience reaction. A definition of audience reaction is also 
necessary. Our present study understands that audience includes 
Jeremiah's contemporary countrymen and reaction further restricts 
the contemporary countrymen to those whose views counter Yah- 
weh's as expressed through the prophet. This audience includes those 
who hold generally to the same theological perspective that might be 
termed a popular theology. 

12 Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,"' 263. 

13 By historicism is meant the process by which the text of Scripture is made to 
submit to the unyielding demands of a modern scientific historiography which fails or 
refuses to articulate its underlying presuppositions. Two examples of such tendencies 
toward wresting the Biblical text are ibid., 108ff. (who hopes to find those verses, 
formerly thought incongruous, that may now be found congruous when understood as 
quotations) and Horwitz, "Audience Reaction to Jeremiah," 555-64. As evidence of his 
methodology Gordis cites direct quotations of speech by the subject, development of 
dialogue, direct quotations of the thoughts of the subject, prayers, quotations embody- 
ing the previous standpoint of thought of the speaker (which he may now have 
surrendered), citation of a hypothetical speech or thought, proverbial quotations, use 
of proverbial quotations as a text, contrasting proverbs, etc. 


By this definition are excluded those instances where Jeremiah 
cites words that come from days other than his own. 14 Also excluded 
are quotations of foreign peoples. 15 Generally, these are of value in 
merely confirming the nuances of audience ideas expressed elsewhere. 
Further, this definition excludes quotations of those contemporary 
countrymen who may have taken Jeremiah's view or at least have 
been sympathetic to it. 16 In addition to these exclusions is the quota- 
tion given in 10:19-20, where the speaker is the land personified. 17 
Moreover, those quotations where the prophet verbalizes on behalf of 
the nation are not included, since the views of the nation and the 
prophet are not concentric (cf. 4:10; 14:7-9, 13, 19-22). 

14 This means exclusion of those quotations recorded in 31:7, 18-19, 23, 29, 34. 
There is little doubt that the context of chap. 31 is future blessing for Yahweh's 
renewed people; cf. Harrison, Jeremiah and Lamentations, 135. V 7 mirrors a sharp 
contrast to the nation's comments in the days of Jeremiah (note for example 2:20; 6:16, 
17; 22:21). And just so is the sentiment of 31:18-19. Also contrastive to what people of 
the exilic period must have uttered is the statement of 3:29 (ibid., 137). Exilic peoples 
"felt that God was judging them unjustly for circumstances which were no fault of 
theirs." Added to this cluster of verses in chap. 31 are several other references that refer 
to the future. The passage in 3:16 indicates that one day the people will no longer say, 
"The ark of the covenant of the Lord," because in that day their concern will be over 
Yahweh's divine presence rather than the symbol of it (note ibid., 66). However, this 
passage may have had a polemic use for Jeremiah's audience. Two passages, 16:14-15 
and 23:7-8, substantially repeating each other, point out that, though God will cast his 
people into a foreign land (16:13) that is not the final end. Eventually once restored to 
the land they will have been furnished a more glorious substratum for the oath by 
Yahweh's name; cf. C. W. E. Naegelsbach, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (Lange's 
Commentaries; New York: Scribner's, 1915) 159 and 209. The passage in 23:7-8 is the 
more difficult, made so by its omission between vv 6 and 8 and its inclusion at the end 
of the chapter in the LXX. On the whole, given the context of both passages, the 
altered substratum of the oath refers to the coming restoration of Yahweh's people. 

15 Quotations of this sort are those in 6:4; 12:16 (cf. 12:14); 39:12; 40:2-5; 46:8, 14, 
16, 17; 48:2, 3, 14, 17, 19; 49:4, 29; 50:7, 46. 

16 An illustration of this type of quotation is that of 45:3 which recounts an 
utterance of Baruch whom T. W. Davies ("Baruch," International Standard Bible 
Encyclopedia [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939], 1. 407) describes as the devoted friend 
and faithful attendant of the prophet Jeremiah. Also add to this passage the citations 
of the conversation of Elishama, Delaish, Elnathan, Gemariah, Zedekiah, and all the 
other officials (note 36:12) with Baruch. The quotations occur in 36:14, 15, 16, 17, 19. 
The context indicates these officials (at least the first three named above) were more 
kindly disposed to Baruch (and thus Jeremiah); cf. 36:25. Jer 36:24 does indicate that 
"the king and all his servants (THDy _ 7p1) who heard these words were not afraid, nor 
did they rend their garments." At first reading, this comment might include the 
individuals named above. But they are referred to as "officials"(D , "1U').The term 
"servants" would include still others who attended the king. Therefore, the comment of 
v 24 must be understood to exclude these officials. For a similar conclusion compare 
Naegelsbach {The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 315): "By the servants of the king 
who 'heard all these words,' are here evidently to be understood those whose who 
heard them here for the first time, not those who had already heard them in the 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 169 

Methodological approach 

The chief concern here is with the method of collation to be used 
as one sifts through the quotations that can now be isolated by 
observing the above definitions. Of course, not every interpreter has 
suggested the same methodology. 

Several alternatives. One could take Horwitz's suggestion that 
the method of collation for organizing these quotations is three- 
fold. 18 There are replies in which the audience repeats Jeremiah's 
statements. Again, there are replies induced by Jeremiah's words. 
And again, there are quotations made by Jeremiah (or God) of 
retorts the audience had made. These three have much to commend 
themselves. Certainly it is possible to collate the quotations about 
such centers. However, the weakness remains that this method tends 
to focus on the context of the quotation especially, not specifically on 
what the quotation tells about the audience; to know of the audience 
is important. The method does not appear broad enough to analyze 
adequately the quotations of audience reactions. 

An alternative is Crenshaw's suggested methodology of collation. 
For him, the organizational schema must denote what one might call 
the theological tenets of the audience. Thus, he concludes that there 
are six such tenets: 

... (1) confidence in God's faithfulness, (2) satisfaction with tradi- 
tional religion, (3) defiance in the face of prophets who hold a different 

secretary's office." Probably another quotation could be added to this category, 38:9, a 
citation of Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch. Though little is known of this individ- 
ual, the citation does picture him as sympathetic to Jeremiah's needs; compare "Ebed- 
Melech," International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939), 
2. 890. Additionally there are the quotations of Gedaliah (40:9-10, 16), whom the 
biblical record treats in kindly fashion, and probably the ten of eighty men (41:8; cf. 
41:5). And, though the nature of their religious correspondence to the viewpoint of 
Jeremiah cannot be known exactly (cf. 26:21), the citations in 26:16, 18-19 indicate that 
a number of people came to the defense of Jeremiah's prophecy concerning the 
judgment to fall on Jerusalem. 

17 Of this passage Naegelsbach (The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 123) says: 
"That both these verses are the words of the country personified, is seen from 'my 
children,' etc., in ver. 20, for neither the prophet says this, nor the people, who are 
identical with the children and not forsaken, but forsaking. — And I say. In these words 
also we have a proof that the land is the speaker. For the words express no 
consciousness of guilt, but a comfort, which the innocent land alone could find, in the 
fact that a calamity is laid upon it, which must be borne." An interesting comparison 
with this passage is Jer 4:28. 

l8 Horwitz, "Audience Reaction To Jeremiah," 559. One of his hopes by this 
method is to help establish, as Overholt ("Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience 
Reaction,'" 262) says, "the historicity of the prophet's message of the inevitable 
destruction of the nation." 


view, (4) despair when hope seems dead, (5) doubt as to the justice of 
God, and (6) historical pragmatism. 19 

Whereas Horwitz's method tends to isolate the settings of the quota- 
tions, Crenshaw's isolates the theological implications of the quota- 
tions themselves. But the latter lost something valuable, measuring a 
given quotation by its setting. It might yield insight for why the 
quotation was included at any given point in the text. 

There are yet other alternative methods of collation. Overholt 
summarizes the three centers about which Wolff believed quotations 
could be collected: 

. . . those expressing faithfully the opinions of the persons quoted, 
those transforming these opinions by means of exaggeration and irony, 
and words spoken in the future. 20 

Then Overholt suggests his own method: examine "the form and 
rhetoric of the passages in which the quotations occur in an effort to 
describe where and how they are used in the prophet's speech." 21 For 
him, this methodology will aid in the discussion of the functions of 
these quotations in the message of Jeremiah. 

19 J. L. Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict (BZAW 124; Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1971) 
24ff. A. S. Van der Woude ("Micah In Dispute With the Pseudo-Prophets," VT 19 
[1969] 246) maintains that the theological tenets of "Zion-theology" which character- 
ized the audience can be known through a study of disputations between canonical 
prophets and pseudoprophets. 

20 Note Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,'" 263. 
About these citations of the audience C. Westermann (Basic Forms of Prophetic 
Speech [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967] 59-61) points out that Wolff's investigation 
(Das Zitat im Prophetenspruch) "of the citation in the prophetic speech, i.e., of the 
words of other men which are cited by the prophets, confirms . . . that the prophetic 
speech forms a unity consisting of an announcement and its reason: 'Yahweh's word 
and deed are not arbitrary. At the outset a reason for the coming judgment is indicated 
by the prefatory disclosure of guilt which also takes place in the citation. . . . The 
citation is necessary because an altercation is demanded by the dispute between God 
and man. The speech that only gives an imperative about the future and does not 
contain an altercation with the hearer is thus actually unprophetic. . . . The citation is 
subject to the freedom of the prophetic proclamation. It is the instrument of his public 
speech. . . . Because of this it is impossible to make a strict distinction between 
authentic and inauthentic (i.e., composed by the prophet) citations. The citation does 
not belong to the realm of the "private experiences." Either the prophet has heard it in 
the street like other people, or ... he has formulated the citation on the basis of his 
knowledge of the heart of the people. . . . The lawsuit procedure is the stylistic 
background of the prophetic citation. . . . With the citation, it is as though the prophet 
allows the accused to accuse themselves. . . . The regular place in the prophetic speech 
where the citation frequently recurs is in the reason for the judgment. It is the clearest 
form of the reason.'" 

21 Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,'" 264. 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 171 

A proposal. The above summation of possible methodologies for 
interpreting audience response quotations indicates the need for a 
method that is able to deal with the "where" and the "what" of these 
citations. The method must describe where the citation is found, that 
is, concern itself with the context of the quotation. Jeremiah used 
citations, but in what contextual settings? Additionally, the method 
must focus attention on the "what," the actual content of the quota- 
tion. The question is: What does that content tell us of the religious 
ideas of Jeremiah's audience? This content sensitizes one to the 
central point(s) of tension between Jeremiah and his audience. 

In the following discussion, attention will be given to the context 
in which these citations occur. The contexts vary and the location of 
the quotation within a given type of context varies. But always at the 
front is the sharp contrast between the prophet and his audience (the 
"how" of Jeremiah's method). 


As the process of collecting quotations about various contextual 
centers begins, the interpreter must not overlook the danger of 
forcing disparate passages into the same category of context. 22 How- 
ever, where there is similarity of context, collating the various cita- 
tions may be very helpful in understanding the uses to which these are 
put in the Jeremiah material. Centers of context about which these 
citations circulate seem to be four in number, three of which have 
large and nearly equal numbers of citations attached. These four are: 
Accusation, Announcement, Personal Confrontation, and Invitation. 
A fairly even distribution of these quotations exists throughout the 
book, ranging from chaps. 2 through 51. 


The study begins here simply because quotations in an accusa- 
tion setting are principally found in the first half of the book. 23 By 
accusation is meant those passages which record the prophet's press- 
ing home Yahweh's case against the audience. The burden of the case, 
though having multiple features, has but one purpose: to substantiate 
the charge of not complying with Yahweh's expectations. 24 The use of 

22 Note a similar warning concerning the same forcing of the whole of prophetic 
speech patterns into a few categories in Westermann (Basic Forms of Prophetic 
Speech, 56-57). 

23 The locations of quotations in the context of accusation are: 2:6, 8, 20, 23, 25, 27 
(all 3), 31, 35 (first one in the verse); 5:2, 12-13, 19, 24; 6:14, 16, 17; 7:10; 8:6, 8, 11; 
13:22; 16:10; 18:12; 22:14, 21; 23:17 (both), 25; 27:9, 14, 16. 

24 Overholt ("Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,'" 264) follows 
the direction of K. Koch (The Growth of the Biblical Tradition), in understanding 


quotations within this nucleus is three-fold: (1) quotations used as 
confirmation of the accusation, (2) quotations used as contrast to the 
accusation, and (3) quotations used as introduction to the accusation. 
But whatever placement a given quotation has within the accusation, 
the nuclear idea is present: Israel's failure to comply with Yahweh's 
expectations. 25 A survey of this three-fold usage follows. 

Quotation as confirmation. Those passages where citations of 
this sort occur use the quotation as evidence to substantiate the 
accusation. From study of these passages, there appears a complex of 
seven distinct accusations in which quotations confirm the charge. In 
2:6, as well as 2:31, the accusation of (1) ingratitude is brought 
against the audience. The first reference concerns what they did not 
say. The rhetorical question of v 5 introduces the citation. 26 Vv 5 and 
6 together indicate that Yahweh faithfully provided for them through 
effective leadership. The expected reciprocation from Israel was to 
seek the very God who had so abundantly provided. 27 But that was 
what Israel had not done. They did not ask after him, implying that 
he had been forgotten. The second of these two references (2:31) also 
suggests the same element of ingratitude. The rhetorical questions 

accusation as focusing on the relationship between Yahweh and the audience and as 
describing "a social, political, or religious situation that requires 'remedy and interven- 
tion by Yahweh.'" For further discussion of accusation note Westermann (Basic Forms 
of Prophetic Speech, 142ff.). 

"Typically accusation has been considered a part of the judgment speech. How- 
ever, G. W. Ramsey ("Speech-Forms in Hebrew Law and Prophetic Oracles," JBL 96 
[1977] 45-58) has argued that judgment speeches must be distinguished in form from 
complaint speeches which contain accusation but no "emphasis on forthcoming 
punishment" announcement. Ramsey also points out that as Yahweh presses his 
lawsuit against Israel, he acts "in accord with what is expected of a just suzerain" (ibid., 
57). The whole matter of the lawsuit as brought by the suzerain has gained consider- 
able attention in the last two decades. For a recent discussion of this lawsuit Q , 1) 
pattern cf. M. Weinfeld, "Ancient Near Eastern Patterns in Prophetic Literature," VT 
27 (1977) 187ff. Further selected information on this matter and the whole issue of 
patterns from the Ancient Near East and their attendant contributions for understand- 
ing Old Testament prophecy: J. Craghn, "Mari and Its Prophets: The Contributions of 
Mari to the Understanding of Biblical Prophecy," BTB 5 (1975) 32-55; J. Holladay, 
"Assyrian Statecraft and the Prophets of Israel," HTR 63 (1970) 29-51; H. B. Huffmon 
"Prophecy in the Mari Letters," BA 31 (1968) 101-24; Huffmon, "The Covenant 
Lawsuit in the Prophets," JBL 68 (1959) 285-95; W. Moran, "New Evidence From 
Mari on the History of Prophecy," Bib 50 (1969) 15-56; J. F. Ross, "Prophecy in 
Hamath, Israel, and Mari," HTR 63 (1970) 1-28; S. D. Walters, "Prophecy in Mari and 
Israel," JBL 89 (1970) 78-91. 

26 Note W. A. Bruggeman, "Jeremiah's Use of Rhetorical Questions," JBL 92 
(1973) 358-74. 

Compare Laetsch, Biblical Commentary: Jeremiah, 36 and Naegelsbach, The 
Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 31. 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 173 

imply that Yahweh had not been a wilderness or a land of thick 
darkness. 28 Yet, Israel spurned his leadership, choosing instead to 
roam at her pleasure. 

Quotations as confirmation are also used when an accusation is 
made of (2) defiling the land (2:8). Taken together, w 7 and 8 
indicate the religious leadership's failure to handle the law aright, 
because they did not know Yahweh. Thus they never asked, "Where 
is the Lord?" They did not seek his mouth (cf. Lev 10:11). The 
reproach of their failure (as teachers of the Law to seek from 
Yahweh's mouth) fell upon the land (2:7). 

A third accusation is that of (3) defection. These quotations are 
found in 2:20, 25, 27; 5:24; and 8:6. 29 The composite picture of these 
citations is rebellion and overthrow. Israel's own words turn back on 
them as evidence of rebellion, the very accusation of Yahweh. Listen 
to their confirmatory words: "I will not serve" (2:20); "It is hopeless! 
No! For I have loved strangers, and after them I will walk" (2:25); 
"You are my father" (spoken to a tree, 2:27); "You gave me birth" 
(spoken to a stone, 2:27); "Arise and save us" (when all else fails, call 
upon Yahweh, 2:27); "Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives 
rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who 
keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest" (this they did not say 
in their heart, 5:24); "What have I done?" (no man asked in repen- 
tance, 8:6). 30 

A further use of quotation as confirmation is in the prophet's 
accusation of (4) lying (5:12-13). The implication of these words is 
that the people called lie the dire predictions of destruction uttered by 
true prophets. "Not He; misfortune will not come on us," says the 
audience. But Yahweh had not lied to them. They assumed too much! 
Two more uses of quotations as confirmation occur as the audience is 
accused of (5) folly (22:14; in this case Jehoiakim's folly) and (6) 
continuing obstinance (22:21; here the citation confirms their continu- 
ing habit of refusal). 

A final use of quotations to confirm an accusation is in the case 
of false prophets who are accused of (7) falsification (6:14; 8:11; 23:17) 

28 On the term here translated "thick darkness" (H^SXO) cf. BDB, 66; and H. 
Freedman, Jeremiah (Soncino Books of the Bible; London: Soncino, 1949) 16 for brief 
discussions of this term. 

29 This interpretation of 2:20 understands the verse to be read as NIV has it: "Long 
ago you broke off your yoke and tore off you bonds . . ."; for commentary and 
discussion on the pointing consult Naegelsbach, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 27 
(textual and grammatical n. 1) and Laetsch, Biblical Commentary: Jeremiah, 40 
(Grammatical Notes). 

30 That this latter reference is in the context of defection is made clear by the 
previous context. 


[both]; 23:25; 27:9; 27:14; 27:16; 37: 19). 31 A cursory reading of these 
quotations confirms the accusation of falsification. These prophets 
declared that the audience could expect peace, that calamity would 
not come, that service under the enemy would not happen, and that 
even the absence of the temple vessels was of short duration. Alas, all 
was believable because the false prophets claimed, "I had a dream!" 
They had not stood in Yahweh's council and their predictions thus 
were false. 32 The accusation of falsification is confirmed by the words 
these prophets spoke. None of what they spoke would happen. 

Quotation as contrast. This usage (and the one to follow) is far 
less frequent in the accusation sections of the Jeremiah material. In 
this case the quotation is understood as a contrast to the accusation. 
Through use of this contrast the precise point of the accusation is 
sharpened and heightened. Four accusations are made in which the 
citation stands as a contrast. 

There is the accusation of (1) guilt (2:23; 2:35). In 2:23 the 
audience reaction is that of innocence, but the accusation which 
continues in vv 24ff. corrects her false claim. No wonder the rhetor- 
ical question of 2:23 begins with, "How can you say . . . ?" The 
passage in 2:35 suggests that the audience continues insisting (imper- 
fect) on their innocence, this in spite of their open, brazen sin (v 34). 
A further usage is in an accusation of (2) swearing falsely (5:2). The 
quotation indicates their readiness to make use of the most binding 
oath of all and in that very instance, therefore ("[?/), swear falsely 
p|7$). 33 Moreover, a quotation as a contrast to an accusation of (3) 
ignorance of sin's consequence is used in 7:10 and of (4) ignorance of 
Yahweh's law in 8:8. In both cases the assumption of the audience is a 
stark contrast to the accusation. They reason that sin has no conse- 
quence; thus, "we are delivered." The law's presence means "we are 
wise." Their problem was that, while the law was present, they did 
not know the ordinance of Yahweh (8:7). Thus the rhetorical question 
of v 8, "How can you say . . . ?" Finally in 6:16 and 17 the quotation 
is used as evidence of (5) rejecting invitations offered. 

Quotation as introduction. In this case, the quotation is used to 
initiate the accusation against the audience (5:19; 13:22; 16:10; 18:12). 

31 For a more complete interpretation of these false prophets note R. E. Manahan, 
"A Theology of Pseudoprophets: A Study in Jeremiah," GTJ 1 (1980) 79-81. 

32 On this entire concept of falsehood in Jeremiah note T. W. Overholt, The Threat 
of Falsehood (Naperville: Allenson, 1970). 

"Compare Naegelsbach, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 69 for comments 
which reach the same conclusion. So Freedman (Jeremiah, 34) concludes: "Their oaths 
are false, even when supported by the most solemn mention of God's name." 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 175 

The first three are cast in question form. Each raises the question of 
what the basis for judgment is. The question introduces a rather 
detailed accusation. In 18:12 a statement of the audience's insistence 
on following their own course introduces the accusation of vv 13ff. 


The burden of announcement is judgment and is the expected 
corollary to accusation. By announcement is meant that oracle of 
disaster sure to follow heavy on the heels of failure to comply with 
Yahweh's expectations. 35 While attention might be given to the 
recipient of the announcement (an individual or the nation) or to the 
content of the announcement (death, dispossession from the land, 
etc.), study might also be given to location within the announcement 
oracle. The several quotations within announcement oracles fall into 
two categories of location. 36 These citations appear to be used either 
to introduce the announcement or in some cases add an expansion to 
the announcement. A survey of these locations follows. 

Quotation as introduction. Thirteen quotations seem to be used 
to introduce the announcement. Four of these are constructed rhetor- 
ically as questions: 13:12; 15:2; 23:33; and 33:24. All of these lead to a 
more complete discussion of judgment. The third of these issues in an 
announcement which, from vv 34-38, continues circulating about the 
phrase first introduced in v 33: "The oracle of the Lord." However, 
the introductory quotation in v 33 is immediately followed by the 
bold announcement: "I shall abandon you." The quotation of v 33 
indicates the derision of the audience as they ask what new heavy, 
burdensome (NWB), not pleasing word had come from Yahweh. 37 

34 In point of fact the quotation of 18:12 functions as a transition between 
invitation (end of v 11) and accusation in verse 13. The accusation builds on the 
quotation, "therefore" (]?7> v ^). 

35 Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,'" 264. For 
a more detailed discussion of announcement in terms of its introduction, form, 
content, contrast motif, sign etc., see Westermann, Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech, 
149-61. For an interesting study on a tangential treatment of announcement cf. D. R. 
Hillers, "A Convention In Hebrew Literature: The Reaction to Bad News," ZA W 11 
(1965) 86-92. 

36 This study understands that quotations within announcements are: 2:35 (the 
second of two); 4:5, 19-21, 31; 8:14-16a, 19, 20; 9:19; 13:12, 18; 15:2; 21:13; 22:18 
(both); 23:33, 34, 35 (both), 38; 33:24; 34:5; 38:22; 42:13, 14; 44:25, 26; 51:34, 35 (both). 

37 The use of word emphasizes the derision the audience held for words of woe, not 
weal, from Yahweh. Of course, the word could simply mean "pronouncement" (cf. 
Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 217), but 
the context suggests the term should be understood in the sense of burden. Of the 
passage Naegelsbach (The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 217) comments: "At all 
events the opposers emphasized the idea of burden. They wished to say that every 


The last of these four (33:24) has been somewhat difficult to 
interpret, but the understanding here is that the nation of Israel is 
speaking and that "this people" may refer to that skeptical portion of 
the audience. "My people" would then refer to the whole of the 
nation. 38 The skepticism concerns whether Yahweh has kept faithfully 
his promise in choosing Israel and Judah. The announcement which 
follows is not ultimately of destruction but of weal: "I will restore 
their fortunes and will have mercy on them." But upon the immediate 
audience it was an announcement of woe, since the weal will eventu- 
ally follow a carrying off into captivity (DrHSttJ). 39 

Besides these four references there is considerable variety in just 
what relationship the introductory quotation sustains to the crux of 
the announcement. The obstinacy evident in the citation in 44:25 
brings on full force the prediction of judgment. In 2:35b the obstinate 
insistence of innocence brings on the prediction. 

The passage in 29:15 uses an introductory quotation in a rather 
unusual way. A citation is made which indicates that members of the 
nation already in Babylon believed that true prophets were among 
them. These prophets could continue their predictions about Jerusa- 
lem so long as the city stood. But the announcement is that Jerusalem 
will not stand (vv 16-20). What then will those supposed prophets in 
Babylon prophesy about? They will be out of work! 4 

In 51:34 and 35 (both) the citations lead to an announcement 
against Babylon. The speaker of these citations is Israel as she 
anguishes in her distress (the NIV punctuation is preferable). The 
citations of 22:18 indicate how lamentation over the passing of 
Jehoiakim will not be made. Silence over this sort of lament is 

declaration of Jehovah was only a new burden, that only what was burdensome, not 
what was pleasing, came from this God. In so far the question was one of blasphemous 
derision." There is also the matter of the LXX rendering of "What oracle" (or burden) 
by "You are the oracle" (v 33). This, however, does not alter the general interpretation 
of the passage. 

38 For further discussion of this point note ibid., 296 and Freedman, Jeremiah, 229. 

9 While there is some debate over the exact translation of the word DHIDU' (cf. 

Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 358), the 

statement "I will restore" p1tt?K, v 26) confirms the interpretation here offered. This 

latter form itself has been of some concern also (note apparatus). 

40 On this passage Naegelsbach (The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 249) com- 
ments: "Hence also the prophecies of the false prophets dwelt above all on the 
continuance of Jerusalem. Even the present misfortune, the partial deportation of the 
people and the sacred vessels, although they had not predicted it, they could explain as 
a mere episode, which did not refute the main tenor of their promises, so long as 
Jerusalem and the temple were standing, and there were people in Jerusalem. Hence 
Jeremiah takes away the ground from under the feet of those false prophets, by 
predicting in vers. 16-20 the total destruction of the present population of Jerusalem, 
together with their king." 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 177 

appropriate to the announcement that "he will be buried with a 
donkey's burial" (v 19). The quotation of 13:18 graphically introduces 
the announcement of the ruination of regal symbols due to exile. 

Quotation as expansion. Among the seventeen quotations used 
to expand and amplify in some way the essence of the announcement 
of judgment are those which picture alarm, sorrow, anguish, and even 
despair on the part of those who will be judged. Alarm among the 
recipients of judgment is portrayed by the quotations in 4:5 and 8:14- 
16a. Sorrow, anguish, and despair are graphically depicted in expan- 
sions of the announcement in 4:19-21, 31; 8:19, 20; and 9:19. 41 The 
passages in 23:34, 35 (both), and 38 all in some way expand on the 
central idea of the audience's skeptical derision given in the introduc- 
tory quotation in v 33. In a rather long announcement passage, the 
quotation of 21:13 functions as a means of identifying the audience as 
those who securely rest in their supposed invulnerability. However, 
Zedekiah, the king, is promised a humanitarian end, and the quota- 
tion serves as an expansion on that theme in 34:5. 

The occurrence in 44:26 is a bit unexpected in the way the 
citation is employed to expand on the announcement. The quotation 
suggests that the oath will not be practiced (even falsely) because of 
the decimation of those men of Judah presently in Egypt (44:27). By 
citing what those men will not say, the quotation is intended to 
expand on the announcement: "All the men of Judah who are in the 
land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until 
they are completely gone" (44:27). 

Last, there are three quotations in 38:22 and 42:13, 14 which, for 
purposes of this survey, may conveniently be grouped together. All 
three are in the context of a conditional construction. 42 In all three 
cases the audience faced a decision: What should we do about 
leaving? In these cases the quotations in their respective ways expand 
on the announcement of judgment. 

Personal confrontation 

The emphasis here falls on personal. These quotations are cen- 
tered in passages where Jeremiah as prophet is pitted against opposi- 
tion (of varying degrees). A number of quotations suggest (1) great 

41 This interpretation of 8:19 is contested by Bruggemann, "Jeremiah's Use of 
Rhetorical Questions," 362) who understands the rhetorical question to create "an 
entry for the accusation which asserts that the issue is not Yahweh's presence but 
Israel's lack of loyalty." The interpretation suggested in this study is that v 18 (note 
alternate translations of initial words) introduces the announcement that moves 
through v 22. 

42 The construction is "if (DX, 38:21 and 42:13) . . . participle . . ., then (1 38:22 and 
42:15) . . ." Note GKC, 494-97. The first of these quotations (38:22) is placed in the 


personal threats against Jeremiah. These locations are 11:19, 21; 12:4; 
18:18; 20:10 (both); 26:8-9, 11; 29:26-28; 37:13; and 38:4. 43 Taken 
together, these quotations testify to the breadth, length, and depth of 
opposition to Jeremiah. That citizens from his hometown, the nation 
at large, friends, priests, false prophets, political officials, and even an 
exile all opposed him demonstrates the breadth of opposition. The 
length of that ill-feeling persisted throughout most of the prophet's 
ministry. And the depth of that ill-feeling is seen very plainly in 
reading the above references; they wanted his death. 

Beyond this there are a number of (2) personal encounters with 
individuals. Most preeminently the encounters are with Zedekiah. 
The citations of this sort are 21:2; 32:3-5; 37:3, 9, 17, 19; 38:10, 14, 16, 
19, and 24-26. In general terms, the portrait given of Zedekiah is of a 
man caught in all the turmoil of the age, caught with a faltering 
kingdom on his hands. Additionally, four quotations are given of 
Johanan, 40:14; 42:2-3, 5-6; and 43:2-3. In the mouth of Jehoiakim 
are put the words of one quotation (36:29; a quotation within a 
quotation), and in the mouth of Ishmael one quotation (41:6). The 
passages in 44:16-18 and 19 concern an encounter Jeremiah had with 
a group of men and women (note the message against which they 
reacted, 44:1-14). A last personal encounter in which a quotation is 
placed is that of Hananiah and Jeremiah in chap. 28. Vv 2-4 
recount the words of Hananiah. Clearly these words could have been 
grouped earlier with statements about false prophets, but considering 
the nature of the head-on confrontation of chap. 28, they belong in 
this category. 

On three occasions, there are quotations in the context of (3) the 
prophet's seeming conflict with the ways of Yahweh (14:13, 15, and 
17:15). The first two alternate between Jeremiah's attempted excuse 
for the people (false prophets are misleading them) and Yahweh's 
answer (he did not send those prophets to say what they had 
declared). Jeremiah's other conflict in which a quotation occurs is his 
complaint that the audience derisively asks to know where the word 
of Yahweh is (17:15). 

apodosis, the last two quotations (42:13, 14) in the protasis. The construction itself 
suggests probability. 

43 On 20:10 note the interpretation offered by W. L. Holladay, "The Covenant 
With the Patriarchs Overturned: Jeremiah's Intention In 'Terror On Every Side,'" J BL 
91 (1972) 305-20 and D. L. Christensen, "'Terror On Every Side' In Jeremiah," yflL 92 
(1973) 498-502. 

44 For a study of this conflict note T. W. Overholt, "Jeremiah 27-29: The Question 
of False Prophecy," JAAR 35 (1967) 241-49. 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 179 


The materials within this last context of quoted material from 
the audience may be surveyed very briefly since the number of 
citations is few, three in fact. The first of these in 3:22b-25 appears to 
be a structured response from the audience at the invitation of 
Yahweh to return. 45 In the response, the audience is made to speak in 
words of repentance and sorrow over sins committed. Here provision 
is made for the audience to have an appropriate response, unfortu- 
nately, a response she never made. In 4:2, the quotation appears in 
the protasis of a conditional statement as one of the conditions to be 
met for those who truly return. They are to swear in truth and 
righteousness, not falsely. The "Temple Sermon" in chap, seven 
contains a quotation within the invitation with which the passage 
begins. They had falsely trusted in objects and externals. Those who 
amend their ways will be blessed with Yahweh's special presence in 
their midst. 

This survey of the nearly one hundred quotations serves to 
indicate the context within which citations are made. The discussion 
now raises the question: What can be learned about the book's 
interpretation of the audience by studying the actual content of the 


By now, certain ideas about the content of these numerous 
audience reaction quotations should be clear. Space does not permit 
any extensive treatment of each quotation. In fact, such would serve 
no particular purpose here. A general picture, however, of the 
audience begins to emerge from a survey of these quotations. The 
composite portrayal is telling and establishes some rather clear points 
of tension between the prophet and his audience. Other than the 
following could be said, but what follows must be said. 46 

Opposition to the prophet's theology 

Jeremiah had consistently maintained throughout his ministry 
that breaking Yahweh's stipulations was the reason for coming 
judgment. In the previous analysis of quotations in accusation sec- 
tions the study indicated the prophet's charges that met with stiff 

45 For an important interpretive note on 3:22ff. see Gordis, Poets, Prophets, and 
Sages: Essays in Biblical Interpretation, 116-17. 

46 In addition to the three items cited attention could be called to the types of sins 
the audience committed or the nature of false prophets or the type of response to 
Yahweh's blessings. 


opposition. The audience claimed innocence in the face of such 
charges (cf. 2:35 and 8:6). As Jeremiah attempted to call them back, 
they went their own way, insisting on their self-direction (cf. 2:20, 31; 
6:16; etc.). So serious was the conflict between prophet and audience 
that they mocked him and wished his death (cf. 17:15 and 11:19; 
18:18; 26:8-9; etc.). And this opposition lasts from beginning to end, 
so intense was it (cf. all of chap. 2 and 44:16-18, 19). In the face of 
such hostility, the question can rightfully be raised: What audience 
ideas led them in such reaction? The content of these quotations does 
not leave one wanting for an answer. 

Emphasis on Zion's inviolability 

More than a dozen passages scattered throughout the book 
indicate that the notion of Jerusalem's security stood at the heart of 
audience belief. Jeremiah had given clear assurances that covenant 
obedience would assure Jerusalem's continuance, and disobedience its 
collapse. 47 He called the audience to obedience. 48 But they did not 
obey. They insisted on Jerusalem's continuance (note 6:14; 7:10; 8:11; 
12:4; 21:13; 23:17; 27:9, 14 and 37:19). And even after the Babylo- 
nians had staged attacks, the audience (represented by Hananiah in 
28:2-4) continued insisting that Jerusalem was inviolable. Of course, 
they had to make a few adjustments in their analysis! Within two 
years things would be better! The audience was even aware that 
Micah had predicted the plowing of Zion (26:18). But that did not 
matter; the audience believed Zion could not fall. But why did they 
take this view? 

Two passages may suggest an answer. The passage in 33:24 is 
interesting. Earlier, the interpretation given this verse was that skepti- 
cal Israel speaks, saying: "The two families which the Lord chose, He 
has rejected them." The audience here places fault squarely on 
Yahweh's failure to execute his choosing of them. Their degradation 
prohibited an alternative explanation. Could it be that in their minds 
the rise or fall of Zion was solely dependent on Yahweh's selection of 
it? Many years earlier Isaiah had recorded an interesting passage in 
this light. Hayes points out that Isaiah watched "the menace of the 
Assyrian army: 'There cometh a smoke out of the north, and there is 
no straggler in his ranks (Is. 14:31b).'" 49 Only one answer can be 

47 Important passages here are 17:21-25; 22:8-9; 23:5-6; 25:29; 26:18-21; 29:11; 
32:23ff.; 33:19ff.; 35:15; 52: Iff. 

48 Cf. 11:3 f f . and so throughout the book. 

49 See .!. H. Hayes, "The Tradition of Zion's Inviolability," JBL 82 (1963) 424-25. 
However, agreement cannot be found with Hayes' later conclusion that "the tradition 
of Zion's election, associated with the bringing of the ark to the city and the building of 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 181 

given to messengers who came demanding the city's surrender: "That 
the Lord hath founded Zion, and in her shall the afflicted of his 
people take refuge" (Isa 14:32). 

The second of two quotations in Jeremiah which may give a clue 
concerning why the audience concluded Zion could not fall is in 5:12- 
13. Here the words "Not He; misfortune will not come on us" are of 
note. The opening words "Not He" (NASB) are translated "He will 
do nothing" in NIV. The expression NliVN'V implies that such 
activity as misfortune (HJn) is somehow not part of what Yahweh 
would do. The suggestion is that the character of their God rejected 
such activity. Taking 33:24 and 5:12-13 together may suggest that 
the audience understood Zion as inviolable because Yahweh's choos- 
ing of her caused him never to act against her. Such activity against 
her would be utter inconsistency (contrast the singular expression 
of 26:18). 

Tilson in his study has grappled with this situation of the 
audience. He concludes that out of a "basically religious understand- 
ing of Yahweh's protection, there evolved a political theory that may 
be termed 'the divine right of Israel to chart Yahweh's course for 
him.'" 50 The audience must have come to see Yahweh's very existence 
as a guarantee of their success. 51 In summary, the audience reaction 
quotations in Jeremiah leave no doubt that the audience held tena- 
ciously to Zion's inviolability as a central theological-political tenet. 

Emphasis on externals 

If Zion's continuance is not conditioned on covenantal obedience 
as Jeremiah declared, then what is the basis of its continuance? The 
audience understood Yahweh's selection as the basis. But how could 
the audience be assured of this selection? 

the temple, was connected with pre-Davidic or non-Israelite traditions concerning the 
invulnerability of Jerusalem" (ibid., 426). Cf. also the study of R. De Vaux, "Jerusalem 
and the Prophets," Interpreting the Prophetic Tradition (edited by Harry Orlinsky; 
Library of Biblical Studies; Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1969), 275-300. 

50 Tilson, "False Prophets In the Old Testament," 309. He continues: "Hard upon 
the heels of the belief that Yahweh was Palestine's special protector came the illogical, 
as well as irreligious and disastrous, deduction that he was its necessary protector. 
Simultaneous with the emergence of this solution to the religious-political puzzle, 
humble gratitude in the face of Yahweh's unspeakable grace began to give way to 
arrogant presumption upon his irrational prejudice." 

51 For Tilson such thinking on the part of the audience may be explained by the 
tendency of the audience to equate Yahweh's rule as coextensive with the landed area 
of Israel; he was a tribal god (ibid., 303ff.). For further study on this general subject 
note F. C. Fensham, "Covenant, Promise and Expectation in the Bible," TZ 23 (1967) 
305-22. Also note the attendant discussion of W. C. Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament 
Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 152ff. 


As part of the religious rationale, Jeremiah's audience considered 
externals to be evidence of this selection. Externals became necessary 
to legitimate this selection. Should the externals be taken away, the 
selection was invalidated. What were these externals? 

Several quotations of the audience clarify at least certain of these 
externals. The citation in 3:16 is in the context of change which the 
people will undergo. The change will be that the ark's significance will 
be outshone by the presence of Yahweh. 52 That this contrast is picked 
to depict the change may indicate that the mention of the ark was 
polemical. This would be especially so if the ark had comprised one 
of the externals to which the audience had given their loyalties. 53 

In 7:4 little doubt is left that another of the externals was the 
presence of the temple. The audience must have concluded that the 
temple's presence was in some sense a guarantee of their blessing 
from Yahweh's hand. The presence of the Law may have been 
another external (8:8). In 8:19 the external seems to be the presence 
of the dynasty. If there is a king, good! Even the vessels had some 
external significance for the audience (27:16 and 28:3). 54 And, per- 
haps, even prophets (so long as some externals existed in Zion) could 
be external rationalizations (29:15, compare with 16-20). Externals 
became signs of Yahweh's selection of Zion and its continuance. 


In the foregoing survey, an attempt has been made to establish 
something of the context and content of audience reaction quotations 
in Jeremiah. The study has yielded several important points. 

The point of theological tension between Jeremiah and his 
audience is rather clear. Whereas Jeremiah had insisted on confor- 
mity to covenantal stipulations, the audience had insisted on Zion's 
right to exist. The prophet insisted that Zion's collapse resulted from 
the audience's disobedience. The audience accused Jeremiah of lying 
because Zion was inviolable. Understanding this tension helps to 
interpret both the book and the man. Certain points of conflict were 
at stake. These become part of the milieu of Jeremiah. 

Audience reaction indicates the several elements of theological 
divergency. It is a theology of presumption, one that is "para- 
covenantal" (Yahweh had chosen!). But it was one which substituted 

Cf. M. Weinfeld ("Jeremiah and the Spiritual Metamorphosis of Israel," ZAW 
88 [1976] 26ff.) for a discussion of this passage, especially his notations on its dating. 

"For a study on the history of the presence of the ark note M. Haran, "The 
Disappearance of the Ark," IEJ 13 (1963) 46-58, but especially 51. 

54 Note the study of P. R. Ackroyd, "The Temple Vessels — A continuity theme," 
Studies in the Religion of Ancient Israel (SVT 22; Leiden: Brill, 1972) 166-81. 

manahan: audience reaction QUOTES IN JEREMIAH 183 

externals for covenantal obligation. This derangement insidiously 
kept the audience from perceiving clearly the realities of the Babylo- 
nian threat. 

And this survey reminds that audience reaction now, as then, 
speaks its mind, declares its theological tenets. Jeremiah knew what 
the audience said and spoke directly to the issues at stake. Similarly 
the contemporary church must know and carefully speak God's Word 
as did Jeremiah. What is audience reaction saying today? And is the 
Word faithfully spoken? 


Ivan H. French 

Any study of a single facet of the complex person of Christ requires 
a statement of limitations and assumptions. This paper on the 
humanity of our Lord assumes the fact of two complete natures in 
Christ. He was complete Deity, the One in whom dwelt "the fulness 
of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9), the eternal Word made flesh (John 
1:14). A real self-emptying of the eternal Son in the incarnation also 
is assumed (Phil 2:5-8). In Jesus Christ incarnate there dwelt full deity 
and complete sinless humanity. When the eternal Son joined himself 
to a real human nature, he laid aside the independent exercise of his 
divine attributes, while retaining full possession of them. It is a basic 
maxim of this study that there is a distinction between the possession 
and the exercise of an attribute. While Christ never ceased to be God, 
thus retaining the full possession of His attributes, he did voluntarily 
lay aside the exercise of those attributes of power and omniscience so 
that he might become truly man. Dependence is a necessary char- 
acteristic of real humanity. The testimony of the NT, particularly the 
narrative of the four Gospels, presents a consistent picture of a true 
man, walking in dependence upon his heavenly Father. 

The church was still in her infancy when the idea was advanced 
that Jesus Christ did not have a real body, hence, was not fully 
human. The proponents of this view insisted that the body of Jesus 
was only an appearance, an apparition. This was arrived at following 
the basic Gnostic presuppositions that spirit is good and matter is 
evil. It was evident, even to them, that Christ was a good man; 
therefore, they reasoned that his body could not be real matter since 
matter is evil. A distinguished bishop of Laodicea, Apollinaris, taught 
that while Christ possessed a true human body and soul, the human 
spirit in him was replaced by the eternal Son, or Logos. This view 
was intended to protect the full deity of Christ, but it left him with an 
incomplete humanity. The principal objection to the position is that 
"if there is no complete manhood in Christ, he is not a perfect 


example for us, nor did he redeem the whole of human nature but 
only its spiritual elements." 

It was largely to answer this heresy in its various forms that the 
early writers and preachers declared forthrightly the real and com- 
plete humanity of Jesus. Earnest attempts to wrestle with the exceed- 
ingly complex problem of real humanity joined to full deity in one 
undivided Person were not always satisfactory in their outcome. 
Finally, at the Council of Chalcedon, in a.d. 451, a statement was 
drawn which was to become the accepted definition in the orthodox 
catholic church. 

Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach 
men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at 
once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and 
truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one 
substance (ouooumoc;) with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at 
the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us 
in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the 
Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us 
men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer 
(06OTOKO<;); one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, 
recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change without 
division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way 
annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature 
being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsis- 
tence ( hnooxaoic, ), not as parted or separated into two persons, but 
one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus 
Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our 
Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has 
handed down to us. 2 


While this noble statement declares the fact of Christ's humanity 
and its relation to his deity, it neither explains the implications of that 
humanity nor grapples with the problems raised by it. This is not 
stated critically, only factually. Those good men of the fifth century 
were discovering important truth progressively and it would remain 
for others to deal with matters raised by their conclusions. 

The statements of the Chalcedonian confession that Christ was 
"complete in manhood" and "of one substance with us as regards his 

F. L. Cross, ed.. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London: 
Oxford University, 1958) 70. 

'Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (2nd ed.; London: 
Oxford University, 1963) 73. 


manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin" are derived from 
solid scriptural data. An examination of pertinent passages reveals 
the following concerning Christ's humanity. 

A human birth 

While the conception of Christ was clearly miraculous, accom- 
plished by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary (Luke 
1:26-35), his birth was normal in every respect as far as the physical 
aspects are concerned. It took place only after the regular gestation 
period. The unusual external situation which emphasizes the poverty 
of his earthly circumstances (Luke 2:1-20) also brings into clearer 
focus the fact that the entrance of the Son of God into humanity was 
by way of regular physical birth. There is no reason to think that 
Mary did not suffer labor pains and the miseries of delivering a child 
that are common to all women. Luther's Christmas hymn declares 
that the "little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes," but that is of 
doubtful accuracy. Joseph tenderly ministered to his wife who had 
delivered a real baby. When the shepherds came in from the plains of 
Bethlehem they saw a real human baby. However deep the mysteries 
involved, it must be insisted on the basis of the biblical record that 
the Son of God came into our humanity via a genuine human birth. 

Human growth and development 

The record is equally clear that Jesus developed and grew as 
other children do. "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, 
filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him . . . And 
Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and 
man" (Luke 2:40, 52). This is surely one of the unsearchable things of 
biblical revelation. But revelation it is — that Jesus, the God-man, 
grew and developed and made progress in the physical, mental, 
social, and spiritual aspects of his being. No doubt his first teaching 
in truth and wisdom came from the lips of his mother. As all Jewish 
boys did, he attended the synagogue schools in Nazareth, mastering 
the principles of reading and writing under the guidance of real 
human teachers. His mind was keen and alert because it was unham- 
pered by sin. Indeed, so amazing was that mental development that 
by the time he was twelve years of age his questions and answers 
astounded the scholars in the Temple at Jerusalem. Through the 
adolescent years, he was absorbing the lessons of nature, business, 
culture, and social intercourse that were to appear so strikingly in the 
teaching of future years. This whole subject, though much hidden 
from our view, is most intriguing and not without profit as we 
consider him of whom it is said that "in all things it behooved Him to 


be made like unto his brethren" (Heb 2:17), and that he was "in all 
points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). But the 
point is that he did grow, he did increase in knowledge, he did 
develop in a genuinely human way. 

Human ancestry 

Furthermore, the fact of Jesus' human ancestry is made clear in 
Scripture. Matthew and Luke provide us with records of his human 
lineage, the one tracing it through Joseph back to Abraham through 
David to establish his legal rights to the throne of Israel, the other 
through Mary all the way to Adam to establish his true connection 
with the human race. In spite of attempts to prove otherwise, it seems 
clear that he had half-brothers and sisters and therefore knew the 
stresses as well as the joys of family life. His brothers are named in 
Mark 6:3. The historical record of the four Gospels give ample 
support to Paul's declaration that Jesus was "made of the seed of 
David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3). 

Human appearance 

There is no hint anywhere in Scripture that Jesus appeared to the 
physical sight as anything less than genuinely human. When he met 
the woman at the well, she was immediately aware that she was 
talking to a Jew (John 4:9). Indeed, the Gospel records are consistent 
in their presentation of a man who taught the Jews in the Temple and 
on the countryside, a man who performed miracles that amazed the 
multitudes, a man who was arrested and tried and crucified. It was a 
man who appeared to more than 500 people on various occasions 
after the resurrection. Mary thought he was the gardener. The 
disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him at first, but 
they were fully aware that they were talking to a man. In fact, they 
thought he must be the only visitor in Jerusalem who had not heard 
of the strange circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the 
body of the crucified prophet from Nazareth (Luke 24:13-24). No 
suggestion can be found that the Jesus of the Bible was an apparition 
or a mere appearance. 

Human experiences 

The emotions, feelings, desires, and needs that are ascribed to 
Jesus in the Gospel records point unerringly to His full and complete 
humanity. He became hungry (Mark 11:12) as all other men do when 
they go without food for a time. When he hung on the cross, the 
awful dehydration produced by that inhuman manner of execution 
wrung from his lips a cry of thirst (John 19:28). After a long walk in 


the hot sun, he was weary (John 4:6). He felt the sorrow caused by 
death, for when he stood at the tomb of Lazarus, he wept (John 
11:35). It is a part of genuine humanity to feel a special love for 
special people. This seems to account for our Lord's feelings for the 
little family at Bethany where he often found rest and refreshment 
(John 11:5). 

As he moved ever closer to the awful cross experience, his real 
humanity is clearly seen. When he faced the struggles of Gethsemane, 
he craved human sympathy and support (Matt 26:36-40). While the 
agony of the garden experience is bathed with the profoundest 
mystery, it seems certain that he was recoiling from suffering. His "if 
it be possible let this cup pass from me" is not a suggestion of 
rebellion against his Father's will, but is a genuinely human, sinless 
revulsion to anticipated suffering. Any man avoids suffering if he can. 
Jesus knew what lay ahead for him on the cross, and in keeping with 
the humanity with which he was identified, longed for some deliv- 
erance from the unspeakable miseries. But there was to be no 
deliverance, and in full recognition of this, he uttered that noblest of 
all prayers, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matt 26:39). 

Students and theologians have for centuries pondered the cry of 
Jesus, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The impli- 
cations of the question are deep and weighty, but surely the 
"Why? . . ."is one of the supreme evidences of the genuine humanity 
of Jesus. It is most natural for a man in the midst of excruciating 
pain to ask such a question. It does not reflect rebellion against the 
will of God, nor does it suggest a lack of knowledge. But it is the 
outcry of a mind and body and spirit that is being seared by the fires 
of suffering. While in the case of a sinful man, such a question can be 
the expression of rebellion or doubt, it is not always so. And in the 
case of the one in whom is no sin, the cry is the most piercing 
reminder that the one hanging on that central cross was in no degree 
deficient in the essential elements of humanity. 

A human will 

The exercise of intelligent volition is one of the characteristics of 
humanity. If, therefore, it could be demonstrated that Jesus did not 
possess a genuine human will, there would be a good argument for 
the incompleteness of his humanity. But such a demonstration is 
quite impossible. H. D. McDonald has pointed this out: 

It seems impossible to doubt, in the light of His own declarations, that 
Jesus had a will of His own (Matt. 26:39). It is clear that not only was 
His will moved by appropriate considerations as is ours (John 7:1-10), 
but also that it displayed the same activities and operated by the same 
forces as are common to all men. Throughout His life in the flesh there 


were occasions when He had to steel Himself with purpose of will 
against temptations and to set His face as a flint to the fulfillment of 
His vocation. What have been called the virtues of the will are 
particularly exemplified by the steadfastness and persistence with which 
He continued (Matt. 16:22) and the consistent hostility of His enemies 
(Matt. 12:14; Mark 11:18). 3 

A reading of the Gospel narratives from the standpoint of 
human psychology secures the fact that Jesus possessed all those 
traits which are fundamental requirements of genuine, complete 

A human relationship with God 

Jesus on one occasion declared that "men ought always to pray 
and not to faint." He thus made clear that prayer is a necessary 
activity of a man who stands in a right relation to God. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that the same Gospel records which present 
Jesus as a man in every other respect also emphasize His prayer life. 
He prayed before making important decisions (Luke 6:12); after 
passing through a crisis experience (John 6:15, cf. Matt 14:23); in the 
presence of his disciples (Luke 11:1); before performing miracles 
(John 11:41-42); in the presence of a mixed crowd (John 12:28-30); in 
the solititude of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-44); and in the midst of his 
agony on the cross (Luke 23:34). 

The question has been often asked, "If Jesus was indeed fully 
God, why did he pray to God?" If the scriptural record can be read 
candidly, we must insist that Jesus prayed because he needed to pray. 
His praying was not a charade or play-acting; it meant something. He 
prayed not just to give a model to be copied by his disciples; he 
prayed because he belonged to that species, man, of whom it is said 
that they "ought ... to pray." He sought refuge under the shadow of 
the Almighty. He renewed his innermost being in the strength of God 
and found courage for the ordeals of living in his very real confidence 
in his Father. He prayed because he was a man — fully and gen- 
uinely man. 


There is no question that the portrait of Jesus of Nazareth found 
in the Gospels is of a strangely solitary figure. There has never been 
another like him. He stands on the pages of history a unique and 
seemingly unaccountable person. On one occasion, his disciples asked, 

H. D. McDonald, Jesus — Human and Divine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1968) 16. 


"What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey 
him?" (Matt 8:27; Mark 4:41; Luke 8:25). He had just quieted the 
raging storm on the Sea of Galilee by the spoken word. His com- 
panions saw that there was something strange and unique about this 
one with whom they had cast their lot. For the present discussion we 
might well place the emphasis in their question on the word "man." 
"What manner of man is this . . . ?" 

The solitariness of Jesus lay not so much in the fact of his real 
humanity, or in his complete humanity, but in his perfect humanity. 
There was no flaw in him. 

The Apostle Peter, who had occasion to know him well, de- 
scribes him as "the Holy One of God" (John 6:60), and affirms that 
he "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet 22:2). 
The Apostle John declares that "In him is no sin" (1 John 3:5). The 
writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says that he was "holy, harmless, 
undefiled, separate from sinners" (7:26), that he was "in all points 
tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (4:15), and that he "through 
the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God" (9:14). 
Paul's testimony is that he "knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21). The angel 
Gabriel, in announcing to Mary that she was to become the mother 
of Jesus, said, "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be 
called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). 

There are other witnesses to Christ's sinlessness. Judas Iscariot 
(Matt 27:4), Pontuis Pilate (Matt 27:24), Pilate's wife (Matt 27:19), 
one of the thieves who was crudified with him (Luke 23:41), and the 
Roman centurion who presided at the death of Jesus (Matt 27:54), all 
add their testimony to the fact that no sin or wrong marred the 
character of Jesus. 

More important than any of these, however, is the testimony of 
Jesus himself that he was sinless and therefore perfect in his human- 
ity. "I do always those things that please the Father" (John 8:29). To 
his enemies, he threw out the challenge, "Which of you convinceth me 
of sin?" (John 8:46). As he prayed on the night before his death, he 
said boldly to his Father, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have 
finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (John 17:4). Nowhere 
in all the accounts of his life and ministry does Jesus ever betray the 
slightest consciousness of sin. 

Often overlooked in this connection is the testimony of the 
Father to the sinlessness of his Son. As Jesus was leaving the 
obscurity of his life in Nazareth, he presented himself to John the 
Baptist at the Jordon to be baptized, thus identifying himself with the 
people he came to save. As he was coming up out of the water, the 
Holy Spirit descended upon him in a visible form like a dove, "And 
lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I 


am well pleased" (Matt 3:17). As the Father looked back over the 
first 30 years of Jesus' life, he was pleased. The temptations of the 
wicked little city of Nazareth, the stresses of growing up in the 
company of sinful brothers and sisters, and pressures of being the 
family breadwinner after his foster father died — none of these had left 
the slightest strain upon his character. The verdict of the holy God in 
heaven over all those 30 years was, "I am well pleased." 

The perfection of Jesus' humanity included his body. We do not 
know precisely what Jesus looked like, but the evidence is that he was 
a strong, robust man. Sanders asserts that 

Never in human history were physical frame and nervous system called 
upon to endure such unremitting strain as that imposed on our Lord 
during the three years of public ministry which climaxed in the cross. 
Only a physically perfect constitution could have supported such 
unceasing activity and expenditure of nervous force. When it was 
recorded on one occasion that "He perceived that virtue had gone out 
of Him", we are given an indication of the cost at which all of His 
ministry was carried out. The physical effort alone was prodigious. His 
recorded journeys during the three years — and there is no reason to 
believe that all His journeys are included — cover at least two thousand 
five hundred miles travelled on foot. He was usually thronged with 
people, and always preaching, teaching, and healing. 

He does not seem to have suffered from illness. This is to be 
expected, for illness is the precursor of death and death finds its 
ultimate cause in sin (Rom 5:12). There was a certain physical 
robustness about him which made it possible for him to face throngs 
of people constantly during the daylight hours and spend long nights 
in prayer. 

It needs to be emphasized repeatedly that sin is not a necessary 
part of real humanity. Adam was a real man before he sinned. Sin is 
a Satanic intrusion and a blight upon humanity as God intended it to 
be. That blight was not found in Jesus Christ. The sinlessness of Jesus 
declares the absolute perfection of his humanity. 


It is one of the basic presuppositions of this study and one of the 
great teachings of the NT that Jesus Christ is God. That being so, it 
follows that he was God during the days of his earthly life, for God 
cannot change in any of his attributes and remain God. 

It is also true that Jesus Christ is man — true man and complete 
man. When the eternal Son of God became incarnate, he took upon 

4 J. Oswald Sanders, The Incomparable Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1971) 47. 


himself all the necessary characteristics of full humanity. But it was 
perfect humanity — not even his worst enemies could fault his char- 
acter (John 8:46). Either a casual or careful reading of the four 
Gospels leave one with the decided conviction that Jesus of Nazareth 
was a man. 

This raises some questions that are certainly theological in nature 
but very practical in their ramifications. Was the humanity of Jesus 
perfect because it was joined to deity? Or are the expressions of 
human feelings, limitations, attitudes, and emotions to be seen as 
functioning apart from the control of his divine nature? Must his 
successful resistance of temptation be accounted for by the union of 
the two natures in one person? If so, then is it fair to command 
believers to "walk as he walked" (1 John 2:6), when our human 
nature is not joined to deity? 

There were many times when Jesus had to face temptation in 
addition to the wilderness experience. For thirty years in his Nazareth 
home he faced the daily decisions and tests of growing from boyhood 
to adolescence to mature responsibility. He was part of the life of a 
very real family. He apparently had the responsibilities of family 
breadwinner after the death of Joseph and faced the challenges in the 
carpenter's trade of doing good work, pleasing his customers, han- 
dling himself in the rough-and-tumble world of business. Only in this 
way could he "in all things ... be made like unto his brethren" (Heb 
2:17). The perfection of his actions and reactions of those years is 
attested by the Father's voice at the Jordan, "This is my beloved Son 
in whom I am well pleased" (Matt 3:17). 

The four Gospels give us just a fraction of the deeds and words 
of Jesus during the three and one-half years of ministry. Yet there is 
abundant evidence that he constantly faced decisions and always 
made the right decision. Mary apparently wanted him to reveal his 
full identity at the wedding at Cana; Jesus chose to reject her veiled 
request (John 2:1-4). On another occasion his family, with apparently 
good intentions, tried to get him to "slow down" in his labors, fearing 
that he was working too hard (Mark 3:31-35). He chose to reject their 
appeal, using the occasion to teach the supremacy of spiritual rela- 
tionships over family relationships. After he had fed five thousand 
people with a few loaves and fishes, the crowd sought to take him and 
proclaim him king (John 6:15). He chose not to entertain for a 
moment any thoughts of an earthly rule at that time and removed 
himself from the multitude. 

His ministry was marked with the repeated necessity of making 
choices, and he always made the right choice. Of all men who ever 
lived, he alone could say, "I do always those things that please the 
Father" (John 8:29). These choices were very real and involved the 


exercise of his will. Was it his human will alone functioning on these 
occasions or was his human will under the control of the divine 
nature? If the latter is true, then it is hard to see how Christians, who 
do not possess deity to control their human wills, can be called upon 
to look to Christ as their example. But if Jesus Christ did indeed 
divest himself of the exercise of the divine nature and lived among 
men in real dependence upon his Father and found his strength and 
wisdom in a pure humanity empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we 
can understand that his prayers were real prayers, his decisions were 
real decisions, his actions and reactions were genuinely human, and 
he is indeed our example in all things. 

The portrait of Jesus Christ painted by the four evangelists is the 
portrait of a man. This brings him very close to us sinners. This man 
who is so much like us — apart from sin — is attractive. He has 
experienced our sorrows, our pains, our disappointments and frus- 
trations. And he has overcome them and demonstrated to us how we, 
too, may overcome. Recently, the author asked a young seminary 
student how he had come to trust in Christ. He had been a student in 
a prestigious eastern university. Some Christian friends challenged 
him to read the Gospels. He said, "I started reading, and somewhere 
between the beginning of Luke and the end of John, I trusted Him." 
The compelling winsomeness of the man Christ Jesus has been used 
by the Holy Spirit to draw multitudes to him, and the efficacy of the 
death of that great God-Man has saved them eternally. His death was 
the consummation of a career that was truly human. 

The night was long, and the shadows spread 

As far as the eye could see; 
I stretched my hands to a human Christ, 

And He walked through the dark with me! 
Out of the dimness at last we came, 

Our feet on the dawn-warmed sod; 
And 1 saw by the light of His wondrous eyes 

I walked with the Son of God. 

H. W. Beecher 


David L. Turner 


The student of hamartiology soon discovers that Eph 2:3c is a 
standard proof text for and often occurs in the various presenta- 
tions of original sin (peccatum originale or habituate). It may well be 
that after Rom 5:12-21 this passage is the most important in the NT 
on this doctrine. All branches of Christendom, including Reformed, 
Lutheran, Anglican, Arminian, and Roman Catholic 1 have depended 

1 Reformed: The Calvinistic theologians normally view this verse as asserting 
hereditary depravity. See for example: Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (London: 
The Banner of Truth Trust, 1941) 240; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 
(LCC 20, 21; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 1. 249, 254; 2. 1340; R. L. Dabney, 
Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976 reprint) 328, 341; 
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 reprint), 
2. 243-44; W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (3 vols.; reprinted; Minneapolis: Klock 
and Klock, 1979), 2. 217-19; and A. H. Strong. Systematic Theology (Valley Forge: 
Judson Press, 1907) 578-79. See also the Westminster Confession (6:4) and Shorter 
Catechism (Question 18): The Confession of Faith (Halkirk, Caithness: Publications 
Committee of the Free Church of Scotland, 1962 reprint) 40, 290. Lutheran: It is 
evident that Martin Luther viewed Eph 2:3c as support for hereditary sin. For brief 
citations from Luther and references to relevant passages see E. W. Plass, ed., What 
Luther Says (3 vols.; St. Louis: Concordia, 1959), 3. 1295, 1300, 1361 (#4151, 4167, 
4385). See also article 2 of the Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord 
(1. 1-3) in the Concordia Triglot: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran 
Church (St. Louis: Concordia, 1921) 44, 105, 779. The Lutheran theologian Francis 
Pieper also views Eph 2:3c in this manner. See his Christian Dogmatics (4 vols.; St. 
Louis: Concordia, 1950), 1. 427, 528, 530, 542. Anglican: While the Thirty Nine 
Articles of the Church of England do not contain proof texts, the language of Article 9 
shows that its framers understood original sin to refer to "the fault and corruption of 
the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam." This 
definition implies a reference to Eph 2:3c. For an exposition of the conservative 
Anglican view, see Gilbert Burnet, An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of the 
Church of England, rev. by J. R. Page (London: Scott, Webster, and Geary, 1837) 139- 
51 and W. H. Griffith-Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the 
Thirty-nine Articles (6th ed.; London: Vine Books, 1978) 155-75. Arminian: Theolo- 
gians such as Miley and Sheldon spend considerable time with Eph 2:3c. While they 
admit "original sin," they deny that man is held responsible or guilty because of it. See 
John Miley, Systematic Theology (2 vols.; New York: Eaton and Mains, 1892), 1. 512; 


upon this passage in formulating their hamartiological positions. 
There are those, however, who deny that this passage has any 
relevance to original sin. 2 Their arguments are not to be taken lightly. 
The purpose of this paper is to determine whether Eph 2:3c actually 
supports the concept of original sin, and if so, what that contribution 

One point of definition must be clarified first: this paper deals 
with original sin proper rather than the broader area of man's 
depravity. Kuehner thus explains this term: 

It is so named because (1) it is derived from the original root of 
mankind; (2) it is present in each individual from the time of his birth; 
(3) it is the inward root of all actual sins that defile the life of man. 3 

It is true that "original sin" is often used with all three of these 
concepts in mind. As "original sin" is used in this paper, however, a 
narrower concept is implied: "the phrase original sin designates only 
the hereditary moral corruption common to all men from birth." 4 

and H. C. Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1903) 
316-17. John Wesley preached a sermon on original sin, evidently from Eph 2:3c on 
January 24, 1743 at Bath, England. This message showed he certainly believed that 
original sin was taught in this text. However, his doctrine of prevenient grace probably 
caused him to deny that man was guilty or under wrath due to original sin. See John 
Wesley, The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley (4 vols.; New York: E. P. Dutton and 
Co., n.d.), 1. 413; and A. S. Wood, The Burning Heart: John Wesley, Evangelist (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 232-36. Catholic: Both Augustine and Aquinas used Eph 2:3c 
to support original sin, though they had quite different understandings of man's sin- 
fulness. See Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine's Anti- Pelagian Works, trans, by P. 
Holmes and R. E. Wallis; rev. by B. B. Warfield, A Select Library of the Nicene and 
Post- Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (vol. 4; New York: The Christian 
Literature Company, 1887) 50, 122, 150, 236, 290-91. One wonders why G. M. Lukken 
translates Augustine's natura (Latin for nature = yvoic,) as "second nature." See 
Lukken's Original Sin in the Roman Liturgy (Leiden: Brill, 1973) 330. For Aquinas, 
see Original Sin (Summa Theologiae, 26; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963) 11 (Question 
81:1). For a modern Catholic perspective see A. M. Dubarle, The Biblical Doctrine of 
Original Sin, trans, by E. M. Stewart (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1964) 188-89 and 
Ferninand Prat, The Theology of St. Paul, trans, by J.'C. Stoddard (Westminster, 
Md.: The Newman Bookshop, 1956), 2. 589. 

2 Among many denials, see Markus Barth, Ephesians (AB; Garden City, NY: 
Doubleday, 1974), 1. 231; N. P. Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and Original Sin 
(London: Longmans, Green, and Co., Ltd., 1927) 113, n. 1; and George B. Stevens, 
The Pauline Theology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895), 152-58. 

Fred C. Kuehner, "Fall of Man" in the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. by C. F. 
Pfeiffer, et al. (2 vols.; Chicago: Moody, 1975), 1. 589. 

A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972 reprint of 
1879 edition) 324. It cannot be asserted too strongly that "original" does not refer to 
man's original character as created by God, but to his original character as a 
descendant of Adam. 


The investigation, then, relates to the legitimacy of using Eph 2:3c as 
a proof text for the hereditary moral corruption of man's nature. 

The term "nature" is used incessantly in articulating the doctrines 
of theology proper (specifically relating to the trinity), Christology 
(one person with two "natures"), anthropology (human "nature"), 
and hamartiology (sin "nature," old "nature"). However, there is 
often confusion in the way this term is used. In this writer's view, it is 
imperative to distinguish between a "person" as a substantive entity 
and a "nature" as a complex of attributes in any of these branches of 
theology. 5 Therefore, the term "nature" will be used here to refer to a 
complex of attributes. Attributes are viewed as innate characteristics, 
not acquired habits. 

Only an exegetical theology can be a valid biblical theology. 
Therefore, the paper is primarily exegetical. The three sections handle 
(1) preliminary matters of exegesis, (2) the Semitic nature of xsKva 
. . . opyfji;, and (3) the crucial word cpuoei. The conclusion summa- 
rizes the exegesis and briefly interacts with other views from the 
perspective that Eph 2:3c does indeed support the idea of hereditary 
moral corruption. 



A well-known approach to the book of Ephesians views its first 
three chapters as primarily doctrinal and its second three chapters as 
primarily expounding duties based upon doctrine. After his normal 
epistolary introduction (1:1-2), Paul breaks out into praise to the 
triune God for his glorious salvation (1:3-14). Next he explains his 
prayerful desire that the Ephesians might apprehend a greater knowl- 
edge of their glorious position in the body of Christ (1:15-23). The 
first three verses of chap. 2 serve to remind the Ephesians of their 
sinful past so that they might better appreciate the love, mercy, and 
grace of God who saved them by grace through faith for good works 
2:4-10). The remainder of chaps. 2 and 3 further explains God's 
gracious program of uniting Jew and Gentile in Christ's body, the 
church (2:11-3:13). Chap. 3 ends, as did chap. 1, with a majestic 
prayer for the Ephesians' spiritual growth which concludes with a 
stirring doxology (3:14-21). 

5 See J. O. Buswell, Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 1. 55, 2. 56. R. E. Showers comes to the similar conclusion 
that nature refers to character or "inherent disposition." See his "The New Nature," 
(unpublished Th.D. dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1975) 23. 



At first glance into the critical apparatus of the U.B.S. text, 6 it 
appears that there are no textual variants in 2:3. The Nestle text's 
apparatus reveals that manuscripts A and D have the second person 
uueic; instead of the first person r|U£i<; in the first clause of the verse. 7 
TischendorPs more exhaustive apparatus shows that manuscripts A, 
D, E, F, G, K, L, and P have fjuev instead of fjueGa as the main verb 
in 2:3c. 8 Since these two forms are parsed identically, no change in 
meaning is involved. A variant more important for exegesis changes 
the word order of the phrase from xeKva cpuaei opyfjc; to cpvjoei xeKva 
opyfjc; (mss A, D, E, F, G, L, and P, and some versions). 9 At first 
glance, this reading seems to place much more emphasis upon the 
crucial term cpfjoei. However, none of the above variants have 
sufficient support to render the text of the passage questionable. This 
study, therefore, will proceed with the text of Eph 2:3c as it stands 
in the Nestle, U.B.S., and Trinitarian Bible Society {textus recep- 
tus) texts. 

Change in person 

The attentive reader of Ephesians 1-2 will notice that Paul speaks 
in the first person plural 10 and addresses the Ephesians in the second 
person. 11 The question arises as to why Paul shifts from first person 
to second person and then back again to first person (see 1:12-14; see 
also 2:1-3 for the opposite shift). Does his first person plural "we" 
refer to himself and the Ephesians or does it mean "we Jews," as 
opposed to "you (Ephesians) Gentiles"? In interpreting 2:3c fjueGa 

6 Kurt Aland, et al., ed.; 77?? Greek New Testament (3rd ed.; New York: United 
Bible Societies, 1975) 666-67. 

'Nestle. Eberhard, ed., Novum Testamentum Graece (24th ed.; Stuttgart: Wiirttem- 
bergischen Bibelanstalt, 1960) 491. 

8 Constantine Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece (3 vols.; editio octava 
critica major, Lipsiae: Giesecke and Derrient, 1872), 2. 671. The textus receptus also 
has n.u£v instead of rjueOa; see H KAINH AIA0HKH (London: Trinitarian Bible 
Society, 1976) 355. 

'Tischendorf, NT Graece, 2. 671. Another very obscure reading listed by Tis- 
chendorf is xeKva opyfjc; cpuoei. For a rather full textual apparatus on this verse see 
S. D. F. Salmond, "The Epistle to the Ephesians" in The Expositor's Greek Testament, 
ed. by W. R. Nicoll (5 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint), 3. 285. 

'"Notice the first person plural pronouns in 1:2, 3 (2x), 4 (2x), 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 17, 
19; 2:3, 4, 5,7, 14 and the first person plural verbs in 1:7, 1 1; 2:3 (2x), 9, 10, 14, 18. The 
question is whether these first person plural expressions ("we," "us") relate to Paul and 
the Ephesians or to Paul and other Jews, exclusive of the gentile Ephesians. 

"Notice also the second person pronouns in 1:2, 13 (2x), 15, 16, 17, 18; 2:2 (2x), 8, 
11, 13, 17, 22; 3:1 and the second person verbs in 1:13; 2:2,5,8, 11, 12, 13, 19 (2x), 22. 
These expressions undoubtedly refer to the Ephesians collectively. 


then refers either to Paul and his readers 12 or to Paul and other 
Jews. 13 The final comparative clause, (be, KCii oi ?ioutoi, refers either 
to the rest of the Gentiles, 14 or to humanity in general, including Jews 
and Gentiles. 15 The position taken here is that "we" is a reference to 
Paul and the Ephesians, and "the rest" is a reference to mankind in 
general. It is not until 2:1 Iff. that a discernible distinction can be 
made between "we" (Jews) and "you" (Gentiles). 16 

Word order 

That the word order of 2:3c was considered difficult at one time 
or another is evident from the textual variants which change the 
order from xeKva cpuasi 6pyfj<; to (puaei xeKva opyfjc; and xeicva 
opyfjc; (puaei. Robertson notes that this word order is unusual, but 
offers no explanation. 17 Winer lists some other instances in Paul 
where the genitive is "separated from its governing noun by another 
word" and suggests that this word order was necessary so that "an 
unsuitable stress . . . was not to fall on (puaei." 18 Abbott finds the 
position of (puaei to be unemphatic and even uses this as an argument 
against interpreting it to support the doctrine of original sin. 1 Alford 
agrees that there is no emphasis on (puaei but states that "its doctrinal 

l2 For the view that "we" in 2:3c refers to Paul and his readers, Jews and Gentiles 
alike, see John Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (reprinted; 
Minneapolis: Klock and Klock, 1977) 130-31; Charles J. Ellicott, Critical and Gram- 
matical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (reprinted; Minneapolis: 
James Family, 1978) 45; William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposi- 
tion of Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967) 109-10; R. C. H. Lenski, The Inter- 
pretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians (Minne- 
apolis: Augsburg, 1961) 410; and S. D. F. Salmond, "Ephesians," 285-86. 

l3 For the view that "we" in 2:3c refers to Paul and other Jews, excluding the 
gentile Ephesians (uufic;, 2:1), see T. K. Abbott, The Epistles to the Ephesians and to 
the Colossians (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1897) 43; Francis Foulkes, The 
Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (Tyndale New Testament Commentary; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963) 70; Charles Hodge, An Exposition of Ephesians (Wil- 
mington, DE: Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., n.d.) 37; and H. A. W. Meyer, 
Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistle to the Ephesians, trans, by M. J. 
Evans (reprinted; Winona Lake, IN: Alpha Publications, 1979) 363. 

Abbott, Ephesians, 46; Foulkes, Ephesians, 70; and Meyer, Ephesians, 368. 

Eadie, Ephesians, 137; Ellicott, Ephesians, 46; and Lenski, Ephesians, 412. 
16 The writer agrees entirely with Hendriksen on this point. See his Ephesians, 

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 419, 503. 

G. B. Winer, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, rev. by G. 
Lunemann; trans, by J. H. Thayer (Andover: Warren H. Draper, 1886) 191. 

Abbott, Ephesians, p. 45 states that the original sin view "gives a very great 
emphasis to (puaei, which its position forbids." 


force ... is not thereby lessened." 20 Another differing opinion is 
offered by Nigel Turner: 

I would say the position is very emphatic: the word comes as a hiatus 
in a genitive construct construction (Semitic), so that it must go closely 
with tekna and suggests a meaning, "natural children of wrath." 21 

At this juncture, it seems that Abbott's contention lacks proof. As 
Alford stated, even if cpuosi is not emphatic, its doctrinal force is not 
negated. The meaning of (puaei is more crucial to its doctrinal import 
than its position in the sentence. However, Turner's view deserves 
careful consideration, especially when it is noted that this is the only 
place in the NT where this type of construction is interrupted in 
this way. 22 

Syntax of 2:1-3 

Only three questions can be noted briefly here. The first concerns 
the logical and grammatical connection of 2:1 (Kai uuat; . . .) with the 
preceding prayer of Paul. Westcott's view that Kai ouac; in 2:1 is 
"strictly parallel" to Kai Trdvxa imeia^sv and Kai auxov eScokev in 
1:22 23 seems untenable in view of the climactic nature of 1:22-23 in 
concluding Paul's prayer. Rather, 2:1 is better viewed as a specific 
application to the Ephesians (The position of Kai uuac; is emphatic.) 
of the power of God mentioned previously (l:19ff.). 24 

A second consideration is the anacoluthon in 2:1. Paul's exposi- 
tion of sin in 2:2-3 breaks the sentence begun in 2:1. Evidently the 
main verb lacking in 2: 1 (for which uuat; dviac; veKpouc; . . . was to be 
the direct object) is finally supplied by ouvs^coo7toir|0£v. The adjec- 
tive veKpoix;, describing man's problem in 2:1, is answered by the 
verb OT>V£^coo7toir|0"£V in 2:5. 

The third syntactical question relates to the connection of 2:3c to 
the preceding. In 2:3 the subject fjueic; has a compound predicate. 

20 Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, rev. by E. F. Harrison (4 vols.; Chicago: 
Moody, 1958), 3. 91. 

'Nigel Turner, personal letter to this writer, February 2, 1980. 
22 The Semitic construct construction mentioned by Turner will be discussed in the 
next chapter. Table 2 lists every NT instance of this construction. Eph 2:3c is the only 
instance where another word interrupts between metaphorical uio<; or TEKva and its 
following genitive. 

B. F. Westcott, St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (reprinted; Minneapolis: 
Klock and Klock, 1976) 29. 

For this view see Abbott, Ephesians, 38-39; Ellicott, Ephesians, 42; and Meyer, 
Ephesians, 356. Perhaps the Km in 2: 1 is to be understood as emphatic ("indeed"). See 
H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament 
(Toronto: Macmillan, 1955) 250-51. 


The two main verbs, dvEOTpdcpriuev and fjueGa, vividly portray first 
the acts and then the state of the Ephesians' past lives. Two ev plus 
relative pronoun phrases are the means of connecting both v 1 to v 2 
and v 2 to v 3. 25 


General definition of Semitisms 

The precise nature and literary identity of the language of the NT 
has long been a matter of scholarly debate. Gone are the days when 
the NT was viewed as "Holy Ghost Greek," written in a mystical 
language unrelated to the secular world. 26 It is commonly recognized 
today that the NT was written largely in koine Greek, the language of 
the people, rather than in the polished literary style of classical 
Greek. 27 More controversial is the degree of influence exercised by 

25 The writer would like to introduce the question of a chiastic arrangement in 2:1- 
3. This is merely a tentative suggestion, not a dogmatic conclusion. Note that vv. 1 and 
3b both have verb forms which refer to a state of being (ovxac,, present participle of 
eiui and rjueGa, imperfect indicative of eiui). Also note that vv. 2 and 3a, both of 
which begin with prepositional phrases in ev, have verbs which present analogous 
concepts of habitual behavior (7iepiejtaxr|oaxe and dveaxpdtpriuev, probably constative 
aorists. The possible ABBA chiasmus, diagrammed below, has as its first and fourth 
elements the idea of sin as a state, while its second and third elements view sin as 
activity. Let the reader analyze this and decide whether it is intentional or merely 
coincidental. Whether or not chiasmus is accepted, it is evident that conceptually 2:3b 
is similar to 2:1, and that 2:2 is similar to 2:3. For some insights and additional sources 
on chiasmus, see Nigel Turner, Syntax (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 3; 
Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1963) 345-47; and J. H. Moulton, Style {A Grammar of 
New Testament Greek, 4; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1976) 3, 65, 87, 97ff., 116, 147. 
116, 147. 

2:1 A : Kal updc, ovxac, veKpouc, 

xbic, Jtapa7tT(6uaaiv icai talc, duapxiaic, uucov, 

2:2 B : ev ale, rcoxe TtepieTiaxriaaxe Kaxd xov alcova xou Koapou 
xouxou, Kara tov dpxovxa xfjc, e^ouaiac, too depot;, xo0 
7xveuuaxoc. toC vOv evepyoOvxoc. ev xolc. uloic, xfjc; 
2:3 B 1 : ev olc. Kal ripeic, raxvxec, d7teaxpd(pT|uev rone ev xdlc, 

eTuGuuiaic, xfjc; aapKoc,>v, ranoOvxec, xd Ge^rjuaxa 
xfjc, aapKoc, Kal xwv Siavoidiv, 
2:3b A : Kal fjueGa xeKva (poaei opyfjc, ck; Kal ol A.oi7roi 

26 See Adolf Deissmann, Bible Studies, trans, by A. Grieve (reprinted; Winona 
Lake, IN: Alpha, 1979) 64ff. Deissmann viewed the "Holy Ghost Greek" theory as a 
corollary of verbal inspiration. In deprecating one, he deprecated the other, as if the 
doctrine of verbal inspiration ruled out the personalities and culture of the human 
authors of Scripture. This indicates a need for conservatives to adequately articulate a 
Bibliology which avoids the pitfalls of both errantism and docetism. 

This writer is aware that this statement is perhaps over-simplified. Obviously the 
style of the NT writers varies exceedingly; Luke and the author of Hebrews both used a 
rather polished style. 


Semitic culture and language upon the NT writers. Related to this 
influence are the literary similarities and disparities between the NT 
and the LXX. 28 Deissmann directed much of his labors against an 
extreme theory of heavy dependence on the LXX and emphasized the 
living nature of language and the various circumstances present in the 
lives of the NT writers. 29 One must take care, however, to notice the 
Semitic background of the NT writers. 30 

The terms Hebraism, Aramaism, and Semitism are all used to 
describe Semitic influence upon the vocabulary and style of NT 
Greek. As Moule states, "this ugly and rather jargonistic word seems 
to have 'come to stay' as a term to describe features of Greek which 
are tinged with either Aramaic or Hebrew." 31 Moule's definition is 
perhaps over-simplified, since other works distinguish between "Semi- 
tisms" and "secondary Semitisms." A Semitism proper (or primary 
Semitism) is defined as "a deviation from genuine Greek idiom to a 

For a concise discussion of Semitisms and a valuable bibliography on the 
subject, see C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (London: 
Cambridge University, 1959) 171-91. For a more current discussion and bibliography 
see Weston Fields, "Aramaic New Testament Originals?" (unpublished Postgraduate 
Seminar paper, Grace Theological Seminary, 1975). H. St. John Thackeray discusses 
the nature of LXX Greek from the perspectives of its Koivn, basis and its Semitic 
element. See his Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University 
Press, 1909) 16-55. 

29 Deissmann stated "The theory indicated is a great power in exegesis, and that is 
not to be denied. It is edifying and what is more, it is convenient. But it is absurd. It 
mechanises the marvellous variety of the linguistic elements of the Greek Bible and 
cannot be established either by the psychology of language or by history." See his Bible 
Studies, 65. In Deissmann's view the key to understanding NT Greek was not found in 
the "translation Greek" of the LXX but in the inscriptions and papyri of the NT period 

30 While respecting the work of Deissmann and J. H. Moulton in relating NT 
Greek to secular Greek, C. F. D. Moule cautions that "the pendulum has swung rather 
too far in the direction of equating Biblical with 'secular' Greek; and we must not allow 
these fascinating discoveries to blind us to the fact that Biblical Greek still does retain 
certain peculiarities, due in part to Semitic influence . . . , and in part to the moulding 
influence of the Christian experience, which did in some measure create an idiom and a 
vocabulary of its own." See his Idiom-Book, 3-4; cf. 188. Similarly Nigel Turner speaks 
of the "strongly Semitic character of Bibl. Greek." Turner views the language of the NT 
to be as unique as its subject matter. See his Syntax, 9. 

3 'Moule, Idiom- Book, 171. For additional dicussions of Semitisms see F. Blass 
and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early 
Christian Literature, trans, and rev. by R. W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago, 
1961) 3-4; James H. Moulton, Prolegomena {A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 1; 
Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1908) 1-20; J. H. Moulton and W. F. Howard, Accidence 
and Word Formation (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 2; Edinburgh: T. and T. 
Clark, 1920) 412-85; A. T. Robertson, Grammar, 24-29, 88-108; and G. B. Winer, 
Grammar, 238. 


too literal rendering of the language of a Semitic original." 32 In this 
sense, Eph 2:3c is not a Semitism (primary). A secondary Semitism, 
however is a possible but unidiomatic Greek construction, which 
strains, ordinary Greek usage to conform to a normal Semitic con- 
struction." 33 It is only in this secondary sense that the term Semitism 
relates to Eph 2:3c. 

A specific Semitism: T£Kva opyfjc; 

Hebrew syntaxes and lexicons often note the use of |3 in the 
construct state followed by a noun expressing quality, character, or 
other attributes. 34 According to Gesenius, this construction is used 
"to represent a person ... as possessing some object or quality, or 
being in some condition." 35 While normal Greek or English idiom 
would simply supply an adjective, Davidson states, 

The genius of the [Hebrew] language is not favourable to the formation 
of adjectives, and the gen. is used in various ways as explicative of the 
preceding noun, indicating its material, qualities, or relations. 36 

Certain other Hebrew words are used comparatively, often with this 
type of "qualifying genitive:" tt^N, ^^2, and D3. Two good examples 
of ]2 in this construction are niDH |2 (Deut 25:2, a "son of stripes" = 
"deserves beating") and 7*n"" , 33 (2 Kgs 2:16, "sons of strength" = 
"strong men"). For further examples, see Table 1. 

Moulton and Howard, Accidence and Word Formation, 14, 477. This definition 
assumes Hebrew or Aramaic NT source documents or perhaps even originals. This 
theory has been evaluated in Fields' work cited in n. 28. 

Moulton and Howard, Accidence and Word Formation, 477. Nigel Turner's 
definition is similar. He describes Semitisms as "those Greek idioms which owe their 
form of the frequence of their occurrence to Aramaic, or Hebrew, or to an influence 
which might equally well apply to both languages." See his Style, 5. 

34 See A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Syntax (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1901) 30-33; 
W. R. Harper. Elements of Hebrew Syntax (5th ed.; New York: Charles Scribner's 
Sons, 1899) 30-31; S. P. Tregelles, Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 126, sec (7); Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, 
Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill/Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1951), 1. 133; and Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles Briggs, A Hebrew and 
English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1906) 121, § 8; H. Haag, 
"}2" TDOT, 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975) 152-53. For this in the LXX see 
Thackeray, Grammar, 41-42. 

35 W. Gesenius and E. Kautzsch, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (2nd English ed.; ed. 
by A. E. Cowley; Oxford: Clarendon, 1910) 417. Examples of the construction are 
given on 418. 

"Davidson, Syntax, 32. 


Many Greek grammars and lexicons note that uioc; and tekvov 
are sometimes used in a manner equivalent to this Hebrew construc- 
tion. It is described in various sources as the "Hebraic genitive," 37 the 
"genitive of relationship," 38 the "attributive genitive," 39 the "adjectival 
genitive," 40 the "genitive of quality," 41 and the "genitive of a thing." 42 
All of these terms describe the same grammatical feature: instead of 
modifying a noun with a simple adjective, the word v'ioq or tckvov is 
followed by a noun in the genitive which modifies the noun. For 
example, instead of describing a person as "peaceful" (eipriviKoq), he 
is described as a "son of peace" (uioc; eipr|vr|c;, Luke 10:6). For 
further NT examples, see Table 2. 43 

Although an impressive array of scholars view Eph 2:3c as a 
Semitism, some deny or diminish the Semitic influence. Adolf 
Deissmann in his Bible Studies made a case for uioc, or tekvov 
followed by the genitive as a genuine Greek idiom. Distinguishing 
such expressions in the gospels (which he regarded as translation 
Greek) from those in the Pauline and Petrine epistles, he concluded 
concerning the latter: 

In no case whatever are they un-Greek; they might quite well have been 
coined by a Greek who wished to use impressive language. Since, 
however, similar turns of expression are found in the Greek Bible 
[LXX], and are in part cited by Paul and others, the theory of 
analogical formations will be found a sufficient explanation. 45 

37 Moulton and Howard, Accidence and Word Formation, 440. M. Zerwick 
similarly refers to the "Hebrew genitive." See his Biblical Greek (English ed.; Rome: 
Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963) 14. 

38 Blass-Debrunner-Funk, Grammar, 89. 

"Robertson, Grammar, 496-97. 

40 Moule, Idiom-Book, 174-75. 

4 'Turner, Style, 90. 

42 J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: 
T. and T. Clark, 1901) 635; and W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English 
Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. by F. W. 
Gingrich and F. W. Danker (2nd ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979) 834. 

43 Table 2 has been adapted from a list in Moulton and Howard, Accidence and 
Word Formation, 441. 

To mention only a few scholars, see Arndt and Gingrich, Lexicon, 839; Alex- 
ander Buttman, A Grammar of the New Testament Greek, trans, by J. H. Thayer 
(Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1880) 161-62; C. F. D. Moule, Idiom- Book, 174; 
Moulton and Howard, Accidence and Word Formation, 441; Albracht Oepke, "raxic; 
...'," TDNT, 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 639; Thayer, Lexicon, 618; and 
Winer, Grammar, 238. Nearly all critical commentaries also view tekvci . . . opynq as a 

45 Deissmann, Bible Studies, 166. Evidently "analogical formation" meant that NT 
writers used a Greek idiom analogous to the Hebrew idiom. 


Deissmann's argumentation was twofold. First, he supplied inscrip- 
tional evidence of similar pure Greek idiom. 46 Second, he pointed out 
that even the translators of the LXX did not slavishly translate 
metaphorical |3 with uioc;. 47 While Moulton and Milligan followed 
Deissmann, 48 this writer must agree with the majority of scholars, 
who view Eph 2:3c as a genuine Semitism. Nigel Turner's statement 
seems adequate: "The LXX translators so often faced the problem of 
the construct state in its adjectival function . . . that apparently the 
habit of using a genitive of quality had been caught by Paul. . . ." 49 

Three lingering questions 

While most scholars view xsKva in 2:3c as synonymous with uiol, 
there are a few dissenters. In 2:2 Paul used the Semitic xolc, uiotg xfjc; 
d7r£i0eia<;. Why then in the next verse did he switch from v'ioc, to 
T8Kva? Was this unconsious, or for literary variety, or was it a subtle 
emphasis of a birth concept (tekvov from tiktco, "to beget")? 50 It is 
interesting to note that there seem to be comparatively few instances 
in the LXX where tskvov translates metaphorical |3. 51 As seen in 
Table 1, u'ioc; is the predominant word. However, as shown in Table 
2, there are six NT instances where t£kvov seems to be used in the 
Semitic metaphorical sense. Only further study will show whether this 
change from vXoq to tskvov is exegetically significant. Presently, 
however, such significance seems doubtful. 

46 Ibid., 165-66. 

47 Ibid., 164. 
J. H. Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament 
Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-Literary Sources (Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1976 reprint) 649. 

49 Turner, Style, 649. It is interesting to note that scholars before Deissmann (when 
NT Greek was explained as either Semitic or derived from classical) and after 
Deissmann (when NT Greek is viewed in its koine context) are agreed that Eph 2:3c is 
a Semitism. 

50 C. F. Ellicott, citing Bengel as in agreement, states that tekvci "is not simply 
identical with the Hebraistic uioi., ver. 2 . . ."He believes that the word connoted "a 
near and close relation" to God's wrath. See his Ephesians, 46 and Alford, "Ephe- 
sians," 3. 91. M. R. Vincent views tekvci as emphasizing the connection to wrath by 
birth. See his "The Epistles of Paul" (Word Studies in the New Testament, 3; reprinted; 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 375. The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards 
also noted the change from moq to tekvov and saw in it an emphasis on birth. See his 
Original Sin (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 3; New Haven/ London: Yale Univer- 
sity, 1970) 301. In opposition to this view see J. Armitage Robinson, St. Paul's Epistle 
to the Ephesians (2nd ed.; London: James Clarke and Co., n.d.) 51. 

51 This writer has not done the concordance work necessary for dogmatism on this 
point. However, thus far he has found tekvov for metaphorical ]3 only in Hos 2:4; 
10:9. Isa 57:4 has tekvcx anaiXEiac, for I?UJD~ , H7'!- 


In the introductory section on word order, the writer has already 
presented several opinions on the sequence of words in this phrase. 
At this point the question of word order must be directed to the 
question of Semitic influence. Of all the OT examples of metaphori- 
cal |3 and the NT examples of metaphorical uioc;/t6kvov, only in 2:3c 
does a word intervene between the term "son" and the qualifying geni- 
tive. This fact seems to make cpuaei quite emphatic. Is this unique word 
order relevant to the question of Semitism? Perhaps this indicates that 
2:3c is more emphatic than a normal Semitic construction. 52 
construction. 52 

While the nature of the genitive — whether subjective or objec- 
tive — is not broached in many sources, it is an important question. 53 
The ambiguity of such constructions is evident from the NIV's 
translation ("those who are anointed:" objective) and margin ("two 
who bring oil:" subjective) of Zech 4:14. In Eph 2:2 toic; uioic; xfjc; 
drceiGeiac; must be subjective. However, 2:3c is normally taken as 
objective: xeKva . . . opyfjc; means those who are presently under 
God's wrath (cf. John 3:18, 36; Rom 1:18; 9:22) or those who are 
worthy of God's wrath (Eph 5:6; Col 3:6). It is grammatically possible 
that xeKva . . . opyfjc; should be understood as those characterized by 
wrath in the same sense that the toic; uiotq ifj; dneiGeiac; are 
characterized by disobedience. In other words, is this wrath another 
aspect of man's rebellion against God? Is it his own wrath against 
others? While this interpretation does not commend itself to this 
writer, it deserves further consideration. 54 


In many ways, the doctrinal import of this passage depends upon 
the sense of this word. The preceding discussion of the Semitic 
background of the phrase fjusGa TEKva (puoei opyfjc; does not really 
assert or deny that peccatum originate is taught in Eph 2:3c. While 
the Semitic idiom certainly does not specify why men are under God's 
wrath or when they come under it. These two questions must be 
answered from the exegesis of (puoei. If cpuaei refers to innate 
character, then the sense of hereditary moral corruption is supported. 
If (puGEi legitimately can be viewed as an acquired characteristic 
("second nature"), then this verse should not be used to support the 

"Buttmann (Grammar, 387) views this as hyperbaton, an inverted construction 
used for emphasis and perspicuity. Arndt and Gingrich (Lexicon, 877) cite an instance 
in Plutarch with cpijaei in this position. 

53 In each case it must be asked whether the noun modified by the genitive is its 
subject or object. See Turner, Style, 90. 

54 Ellicott, Ephesians, 171 and Alford, "Ephesians," 3. 91 react against the sub- 
jective sense. 


doctrine. This section of the paper will survey the etymology of <pi3ai<; 
and its use in both the extra-biblical and biblical literature. 55 Then the 
meaning of the word in Eph 2:3c will be discussed. 


The noun (puoic; seems to be a "verbal abstract" 56 derived from 
(puoucu or (puco, meaning "bring forth, produce, put forth" (transi- 
tive) or "grow, wax, spring up or forth (intransitive). 57 It is often used 
of the natural growth of the physical creation, especially of plant life. 
Thus, the noun (puorc; is related to the external form of plant life as a 
state of its growth. It came also to be applied to the natural state of 
humanity resulting from birth. 58 

Extra-biblical use 

In addition to its botanical and anthropological senses, cpuan; 
"became a key concept among the Pre-Socratic philosophers in 
considering the nature of the world, and similarly the Sophists in the 
question of the foundation and basis of law." 59 In Stoic philosophy, 
(pome; became a god of the universe, with whom man must live 
harmoniously. 60 The following outline summarizes the diverse usages 
of the word. 61 

I. Origin (of persons and plants) 

A. origin or birth 

B. growth 

55 Due to lack of space, this survey must necessarily be quite brief. For more 
detailed information see G. Harder, "Nature," (NIDNTT, 2; Grand Rapids: Zonder- 
van, 1976), 2. 656-62; H. Koster, "ipiim? . . .," TDNT, 9 (1974) 251-77; and H. G. 
Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. and aug. by H. S. Jones (9th 
ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 1964-65. 

56 K6ster, "(puatc; . . . ," TDNT, 9. 252. It is attested as early as Homer (eighth 
century B.C.). See Harder, "Nature," 656. 

57 Liddell and Scott, Lexicon, 1966. 

58 Koster, "(puaic; . . . ," TDNT, 9. 252. Other related words are the adjective 
(puaiKoc, ("natural, inborn, native"), the nouns (puoicoua and (pvaioiaic, ("natural 
tendency, character"), and the verbs (puoioco ("to dispose oneself naturally"), cpuoio- 
^.oyeco ("to discourse upon nature or natural causes"), and (puaio7toiea> ("to remouid as 
by a second nature"). 

"Harder, "Nature," NIDNTT, 2. 656. 

60 Ibid., 2. 657-58. The citation of Marcus Aurelius' words (5 (puaic,, ek ooO raxvia, 
ev aoi ndvxa, eiq ae 7rdvxa (cf. Rom 11:36) may provide a vivid illustration of 
eXdxpeuoav irj Kiiaei Ttapd tov Ktiaavxa (Rom 1:25). 

61 Adapted from Liddell and Scott, Lexicon 1964-65. 


II. Natural form or constitution resulting from growth (persons or 

A. nature, constitution 

B. outward form, appearance 

C. constitution 

D. mental character or nature or instinct (animals) 

III. Regular order of nature (men, plants, the world in general 

IV. Philosophical 

A. originating power of the universe 

B. elementary substance of the universe 

C. concretely for the universe 

V. Concrete term for men, animals or plants collectively 
VI. Kind, sort, or species (of plants) 
VII. Sex (organs or characteristics) 

"There is no Hebrew equivalent in the Old Testament for phy- 
sis," 62 due to the creator/ creature distinction in OT revelation. God is 
the ultimate reference point instead of (puorc;. Thus (puorc; does not 
occur in the LXX canonical writings, but only in the apocryphal 
books of Wisdom and 3 and 4 Maccabees. In these books, usage 
generally parallels Greek literature. Probably the most significant 
occurrence is Wis 13:1: udxatoi uev yap navxec, av0pco7toi (puaet. 
Does cpiJaei here mean "birth" (cf. NEB "born fools") 63 or "nature" 
(created nature)? If innate created nature is in view, this concept is in 
contrast to Paul's explanation (Rom l:19ff.) of the perspicuity of 
natural revelation. 64 The Jewish writer Philo modified (puaic; in his 
unsuccessful attempt to harmonize the OT and Greek philosophy. 65 
Josephus similarly adapted (puaic;, using it often to describe the 
natural topography of the land, human character, and nature as a 
whole. 66 

"Harder, "Nature," N/DNTT, 2. 658. 

63 The New English Bible with Apocrypha: Oxford Study Edition (New York: 
Oxford University, 1976) 107. 

64 K6ster, "cpuaiq . . . ," TDNT, 9. 267. 

65 Ouoic, is extremely common in Philo, who viewed it as divine power and agency. 
See Koster, "<puai<; . . . ," TDNT, 9. 267-69 and Harder, "Nature," N/DNTT, 2. 658-59. 

66 See Koster, "<puai<; . . . ," TDNT 9. 279-81; Harder, "Nature," NIDNTT, 
2. 659-60. One passage from Josephus has been urged in proof that (pvcsiq need not 
always refer to innate character but also may refer to acquired characteristics or habits. 
Thus (puoi? in Eph 2:3c need not refer to sin as in inherited or innate trait but instead 
to an acquired sinfulness. The passage is found in the Antiquities, 3:8:1. In it he 
describes the Pharisees' philosophy of punishment in the words of akXoyq xe Kod (puoei 
npoc, T&q Xiav exaX.E7ir)ve which is translated "any way they are naturally lenient in the 
matter of punishments." Eadie describes this as "constitutional clemency" (Ephesians, 
135). While it appears that this use may include habitual practice, it is practice which 


New Testament use 

<J>ugic; occurs 14 times in the NT (12 of these are in Paul). Three 
related words also occur: (1) the adjective (puaiKoc; (three times); (2) 
the adverb (puoiKdk; (once); and (3) the verb cpuco (three times). All of 
these occurrences are listed in Table 3. According to Koster, the 
relative rarity of (puoic; in the NT (as compared with its frequency in 
extra-biblical literature) is noteworthy. 67 Abbott-Smith's summary of 
its occurrences is accurate and concise: 

(1) nature (natural powers or constitution) of a person or a thing: 
Jas 3:7; 2 Pet 1:4; Eph 2:3 

(2) origin or birth: Rom 2:27; Gal 2:15 

(3) nature, i.e., the regular order or law of nature: 1 Cor 11:14; 
Rom 1:26; 2:14; 11:21, 24; Gal 4:8 68 

Scholars are agreed that the concept of natural, innate character is 
present in all but three of these passages: Rom 2:14, 1 Cor 11:14, and 
Eph 2:3c. Rom 2:14 and 1 Cor 11:14 will be briefly discussed before a 
more extensive treatment of Eph 2:3c. 

<I>uoic; in Rom 2:14. While this may not be "the most important 
and also the most difficult passage in which Paul uses (pOorc;," 69 it is 
certainly not an easy text, as the discouraging comments of Sanday 
and Headlam show. 70 The hermeneutical problem here is to deter- 
mine in what sense, if any, do Gentiles (e0vr| is anarthrous) by nature 

emanates from natural characteristics. For the original Greek and the English transla- 
tion see Flavius Josephus, Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, Books 12-14, The Loeb 
Classical Library, 7 [London: Wm. Heinemann, 1943]) 374-75 (13:294). 

67 K6ster ("(puoig . . . ," TDNT, 9. 271) finds the absence of yvaic, from such 
passages as Acts 17 and Romans 1:18-25 as an indicator that Paul would say "ne in" to 
natural theology! 

G. Abbott Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (3rd ed.; 
Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1937) 476. The analysis of W. E. Vine is identical. See his 
Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 
1966 reprint) 103. Arndt and Gingrich's classification (Lexicon, 869-70) differs slightly: 
(1) natural endowment or condition, inherited from one's ancestors:" Gal 2:15; Rom 
2:27; Eph 2:3; Rom 11:21, 24; (2) "natural characteristics or disposition:" Jas 3:7b; 2 
Pet 1:4; Gal 4:8; (3) "nature as the regular natural order:" Rom 1:26; 2:14; 1 Cor 11:14; 
and (4) "natural being, product of nature, creature:" Jas 3:7a. It is difficult to 
distinguish between the first and second categories. Other possibilities for (puaic; are 
simply "physically" in Rom 2:27 and "species" in both instances in Jas 3:7 (cf. NASB, 
NIV, and Harder, "Nature," NIDNTT, 660-61. 

69 Koster, "cpucnc; . . . ," TDNT, 9. 273. 

™The impression received when one reads their note on this verse is that 
rationalists have taken it more literally than orthodox theologians. See William Sanday 
and A. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1902) 59-60. The treatment given this verse 


fulfill the law's demands? The clause in question reads oiav yap e0vr| 
id ur) vouov exovia cpuaei id tou vouou 7roi(i5oiv, . . . While 
orthodox scholars have proposed some plausible solutions to the 
problem, most of them assume a questionable point. That is, most of 
them take cpuaei with the following clause, making it modify Ttoiwaiv. 
This writer tends to agree with Cranfield in taking (puaei with what 
precedes, modifying e^ovia. Thus, the difficulties of either toning 
down (puaei (viewing it as an acquired "second nature") or implying 
Pelagianism are eliminated. Instead, the passage is interpreted as 
describing regenerate Gentiles who practice the law, though by their 
birth and natural circumstances they do not possess the law. This 
allows (puaic; to retain its normal meaning. This passage cannot 
be legitimately used to deny that cpuoic; refers to innate character in 
Eph 2:3c. 71 

Ouaic; in 1 Cor 11:14. Paul's teaching on hair length is reinforced 
in 11:14-16 with two arguments. Paul first states that "nature" 
confirms his teaching (11:14) and then adds that this is the custom 
(auvrjGeia) of all the churches. While some expositors may tend to 
blur the distinction between (puaic; and auvrjGeia, making cpuaig 
equivalent to acquired habit or style, such exegesis is untenable in 
light of Pauline usage. Paul in Rom 1:26-27 stated that homosexual- 
ity was Tiapd cpuaiv, obviously referring to mankind's innate sexual 
orientation resulting from his being created by God. 72 Therefore, it 
would seem that Paul in 1 Corinthians again appeals to the God- 
given natural order for men and women. The innate sexual orienta- 
tion of men and women is the basis of Paul's position on hair length. 
Again, this passage provides no evidence for those who wish to make 
cpuou; in Eph 2:3c an acquired "second nature." 

Use in Ephesians 2:3c 

In this writer's view, (puaic; in this passage retains its normal 
meaning of innate or natural character. While this passage alone 

by C. E. B. Cranfield is a decided improvement. See his Critical and E.xegetical 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1975), 1. 

71 Francis Foulkes does just this with this passage. See his The Epistle of Paul to 
the Ephesians (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1963) 71. Cf. Cranfield's stimulating discussion in Romans, 1. 156, 157 with footnotes. 
Hodge (Romans, 55) takes cpuaei with noieiv but distinguishes between merely Turner, 
outwardly doing the law and actually spiritually fulfilling the law. This view is also 

72 This refutes the current claim that homosexuality is the "natural" orientation for 
some people. 


certainly would not sustain the developed Christian doctrine of 
original sin, it does make a contribution. While the word cpuoit; is 
neutral and in itself has no sinful connotation, this can be supplied 
from context. There is no contextual connection with Adam's first 
sin, nor is there any explicit proof of Traducianism. However, this 
passage does seem to have its place in asserting the hereditary moral 
corruption of the human race, which corruption results from Adam's 
first sin and is passed along by natural generation. In addition to the 
lexical support for this view, many scholarly commentaries have also 
advocated it. 73 

The form of (puai<; in this verse is dative. What is its precise 
significance? The answer to this question is admittedly subjective and 
interpretive, for the dative case is used to express a wide range of 
nuance. From most of the English translations, the idea of instrumen- 
tality surfaces ("by nature"). 74 Turner and Winer, however, favor the 
dative of respect idea, which seems milder than instrumentality. 
Instead of being under wrath "by nature," it is thus "with respect to 
nature." 75 A third option is supported by Green who views cpoosi as 

73 Karl Braune, "Ephesians," Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan) 76-77; John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Gala- 
tians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965) 141-42. 
Calvin says that "by nature" means "from their very origin, and from their mother's 
womb. In further comments he critiques Pelagianism and makes an important distinc- 
tion between two ways the word nature is used: (1) man's original nature created by 
God, and (2) man's fallen nature corrupted by Adam's sin. John Eadie, Ephesians, 133- 
40. Eadie's extended treatment of 2:3c is one of the best this writer has found. He cites 
evidence from classical and Jewish Greek writings and interacts with sources who hold 
opposing views. He concludes thus: "The modus may be and is among 'the deep things 
of God,' but the res is palpable; for experience confirms the divine testimony that we 
are by nature 'children of wrath,' per generationem, not per imitationem." Charles 
Hodge, Ephesians, 38-39. In his fairly full treatment Hodge briefly deals with the 
Semitic background, the use of (puaic;, and other views. Hodge cautiously states "this 
doctrine [hereditary depravity] may be fairly implied in the text but it is not asserted" 
(38). Lenski, Ephesians, 412-13. While viewing (puoic, as innate here, Lenski concedes 
that (puaic; may sometimes mean a "habitually and gradually developed . . . 'second 
nature.'" This writer is not convinced that such a concession is necessary. It seems that 
even when (puoic; refers to development or growth it does so in the context of an 
outward development of an inner nature. Salmond, "Ephesians," 286-87. He also 
makes the questionable concession that cpuou; can mean habit, but his treatment is very 
helpful, especially the section refuting Meyer's view, which will be explained later. 
E. K. Simpson and F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and the 
Colossians (New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 46-50. In a stirring manner Simpson defends this view by citing classical 
authors and interacting with J. A. Robinson, whose views will be explained later. 

74 Robertson, Grammar, 530, speaks of this as "instrumental of manner." 

"Nigel Turner, personal letter; Winer, Grammar, 215. 


dative of sphere. 76 While the instrumental idea seems most accept- 
able, in reality there is little difference between the three possibilities. 
The view of cpuaic; favored above has not gone unchallenged. 
Several other views have been suggested and are briefly summarized 
here. 77 First, it is asserted by some that (puaei is the equivalent of an 
adverb such as ovtcdc,, dXr^Gwc,, or yvr|aiux;. Thus Paul only says that 
"we were truly or genuinely children of wrath." The problem with this 
view is that, while (puatc; may imply this sense, it means much more. 78 
A second view takes the whole expression (t£kvcx cpuaei opyfjt;) as a 
subjective genitive. In this view opyfjc; is human wrath which char- 
acterizes the individuals described. This view is grammatically pos- 
sible but exegetically and contextually doubtful. A third view is that 
cpuasi simply means "in or by ourselves," apart from God's grace. 79 
While cpuaei certainly includes this idea, it means much more. Fur- 
ther, this view is vague and does not really answer the question of 
whether (puoei refers to original or actual sin. 80 A fourth view, that 
(pooic, refers to developed or habitual behavior, 81 (a "second-nature") 
cannot be sustained from the NT and extra-biblical usage of the 


This study has demonstrated that Eph 2:3c is relevant to the 
doctrine of original sin. The Semitic phrase xeKva . . . opyfjc; places 
the unsaved individual as a worthy object of the wrath of God. 
Perhaps even more is implied by this phrase. The word cpuaei 
presents the reason or cause for this most perilous of all positions. 
While it is true that God's wrath is upon all men for their actual sins, 

Samuel G. Green, Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek New Testament 
(New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1912) 228. He defines sphere in a logical sense as "that 
in which a quality inheres." 

"For more detailed interaction see the works of Alford, Eadie, Hodge, Simpson, 
and Salmond cited previously. These works cite sources holding the opposing views 
listed here. 

78 Only one source consulted by this writer said that this was a legitimate meaning 
of (pucuc;, but the source viewed cpuaic; as having this meaning only in Gal 4:8. See 
Markus Barth, Ephesians, 1. 231. Even Meyer, who would not agree with the original 
sin view, denies the validity of this view. See his Ephesians, 368. 

79 For advocates of this view see F. W. Beare and T. O. Wedel, "The Epistle to the 
Ephesians" (The Interpreter's Bible; 10; Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1953) 641; 
C. F. D. Moule, Idiom- Book, 174 ("perhaps"); J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, 50; and N. P. 
Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and Original Sin, 113 n. 1. 

As Meyer points out {Ephesians, 367), in this view "nothing is explained." 
For advocates of this view see Foulkes, Ephesians, 71; Thayer, Lexicon, 660 sec. 
c; and the Arminian theologians John Miley, Systematic Theology, 1. 512; and H. C. 
Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine, 316-17. 


Paul's use of (puoic; here indicates a more basic problem. Men's evil 
deeds are done in a state of spiritual and moral separation from God 
(2:1). Man is in this state of spiritual death due to his sinful 
nature. — his hereditary moral corruption. And it is this innate condi- 
tion which ultimately brings the wrath of God upon him. Men are 
"natural children of wrath." 82 

Opposition to this view 

Diverse arguments have been offered by the opponents of this 
view. Some of the arguments are exegetical and deserve an answer. 
While this could not be done in detail in this study, Appendix I has 
begun the task. Other arguments are more "logical" in nature but 
actually seem to place reason over revelation, as in the extreme case 
of those who would dismiss original sin an an immoral monstrosity 
on a priori grounds. 83 The answer to this objection must emphasize 
that man's present natural state is in a sense also unnatural. 84 His 
sinfulness, though included in God's plan, is viewed by God as man's 
own fault. God cannot be blamed for original sin for he did not 
create man sinful, but holy. All this aside, however, the final answer 
is "who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" (Rom 9:20, NIV). 

While some would admit to a doctrine of original sin, they would 
deny that men are accounted guilty for this reason. Shedd sum- 
marizes the situation quite well: 

The semi-Pelagian, Papal, and Arminian anthropologies differ from 
the Augustinian and reformed, by denying that corruption of nature is 
guilt. It is a physical and moral disorder leading to sin, but is not sin 
itself. 85 

82 "Natural children of wrath" is the translation suggested by Nigel Turner in his 
letter to this writer. 

83 For example see Charles G. Finney, Systematic Theology (Whittier, CA: Col- 
porter Kemp, 1946 reprint) 244. Finney said that Eph 2:3c "cannot, consistently with 
natural justice, be understood to mean, that we are exposed to the wrath of God on 
account of our nature. It is a monstrous and blasphemous doctrine. . . ." On a more 
modern note, C. H. Dodd spoke of the "figment of an inherited guilt." He asked, "how 
could anything so individual as guilty responsibility be inherited?" In the same context 
he also speaks of the "monstrous development of the doctrine of total depravity." See 
his 77?? Meaning of Paul for Today (New York: The New American Library, 1974) 61. 

84 See Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2. 219: "As opposed to what is natural in the 
sense of created by God, man's inability is moral, not natural; but as opposed to what 
is moral in the sense of acquired by habit, man's inability is natural. When "natural 
means innate, we assert that inability is "natural." When natural means "created" we 
assert that inability is "moral," that is, "voluntary." See also Calvin, Ephesians, 141-42. 

85 Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2. 198. Even in reformed circles, however, some 
theologians have attempted to dilute the idea that corruption of nature is guilt. See 
Nathaniel W. Taylor, Concio ad Clerum: A Sermon Delivered in the Chapel of Yale 


The Romanist perspective alleviates the guilt of original sin with its 
understanding of limbus infant ium and infant baptism. The Armin- 
ian position as articulated by Miley is "native depravity without 
native demerit." 87 This position is exegetically and logically unten- 
able. It does not handle (puaiq properly. Neither does it make sense, 
for the innate disposition to sin, which leads to sin, is not viewed as 
sinful or guilty. How can the effect be worthy of wrath and the cause 
be innocent? 88 

Implications for Christian living 

The study of Scripture (What does it mean?) is incomplete unless 
the student asks, "What does it mean to mel" In the context of Eph 
2:1-10 the answer is not hard to find. The believer is God's workman- 
ship, created for good works. When one contemplates his sinfulness 
in all its degradation, and when he realizes he deserves only the wrath 
of God, he then begins to appreciate the glorious gospel of God's 
grace and realizes a true incentive for a holy lifestyle. G. H. Spurgeon 

A spiritual experience which is thoroughly flavored with a deep and 
bitter sense of sin is of great value to him that hath had it. It is terrible 
in the drinking, but it is most wholesome in the bowels, and in the 
whole of the after-life. Possibly, much of the flimsy piety of the present 
day arises from the ease with which men attain to peace and joy in 
these evangelistic days. . . . Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore 
think lightly of the Saviour. He who has stood before his God, 

College, September 10, 1828 (New Haven: A. H. Moltby and Homan Hallock. 1842) 
1-43. Taylor represented "New School" Presbyterianism. 

86 See S. Harent, "Original Sin" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, II; New York: 
Robert Appleton Co., 1911), 2. 314; and P. J. Toner, "Limbo," The Catholic 
Encyclopedia, 9. 256. To a lesser degree one wonders whether the Lutheran and 
Anglican views of baptismal regeneration for infants have also tended to minimize the 
guilt of original sin. 

Miley, Systematic Theology, 1. 52 Iff. This is also the basic position advocated by 
Meyer, Ephesians, 367. Meyer believes in a sinful natural constitution which eventually 
awakens and vanquishes man's "moral will," thereby incurring guilt and wrath. He 
bases this on his view that Romans 7 describes the experience of the natural man. 
Overall, the Arminian doctrine of universal prevenient (preliminary) grace has prob- 
ably tended to obscure the guiltiness of man by nature. This seems to be the position of 
John Wesley. See the analysis of his views on original sin in Mildred B. Wynkoop, A 
Theology of Love: The Dynamic of Wesleyanism (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill, 
1972) 150-55. 

See Calvin, Ephesians, 141-42; Eadie, Ephesians, 136; and Salmond, "Ephe- 
sians," 287. Salmond correctly observes that this "is to make a nature which originates 
sinful acts and which does that in the case of all men without exception, itself a neutral 
thing." Cf. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2. 199-202. 



convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to 
weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been 
forgiven him, and to live to the honour of the Redeemer by whose 
blood he has been cleansed. 89 




Text NASB 

Num 17:10 rebels or sons of rebellion 
Num 24:17 sons of Sheth or tumult 

Deut 25:2 deserves to be beaten or a son 

of beating 
Judg 18:2 valiant men or sons of valor 
Judg 19:22 worthless fellows or sons of 

Judg 21:10 valiant warriors 
1 Sam 14:52 valiant man 

1 Sam 26:16 must surely die or are surely 

sons of death 

2 Sam 2:7 valiant or sons of valor 
2 Sam 7:10 the wicked or sons of 

2 Sam 12:5 deserves to die or is a son of 

1 Kgs 1:52 a worthy man 

2 Kgs 2:3 sons of the prophets 
2 Kgs 2:16 strong men 

2 Kgs 14:14 hostages 

1 Chr 17:9 the wicked or sons of 

Neh 12:28 sons of the singers 
Ps 79:11 those who are doomed to die 

or children of death 
Ps 89:22 sons of wickedness or 

wicked man 
Isa 57:3 sons of a sorceress 

Dan li:14 violent ones 
Hos 10:9 the sons of iniquity 

Zech 4:14 anointed ones or sons of 

fresh oil 
* This chart is representative — not exhaustive, 
pies given in the lexicons and from a similar list compiled by Prof. Donald 


the rebellious 

sons of Sheth or the noisy 


deserves to be beaten 

(LXX d^ioq TtXr|Y<5v) 


wicked men 

fighting men 
brave man 
deserve to die 


wicked people 

deserves to die 

a worthy man 

company of the prophets 

able men 


wicked people 

the singers 
those condemned 

wicked man 

sons of a sorcercess 

violent men 

the evildoers (LXX id tekvoi 


two who are anointed or 

two who bring oil 

It was compiled from exam- 

9 C. H. Spurgeon, The Early Years (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1962) 54. 



Fowler. In each case except Deut 25:2 and Hos 10:9 the LXX renders the 
construction with uiocj plus the genitive. Notice the varying degrees of 
literality or dynamic equivalence used in translating the Hebrew |3 



Reference Text 

Matt 9:15 oi uioi xou vuu<ppci)voc; 

Matt 23:15 uiov yeevrig 

Mark 2:19 oi uioi xou vuucppwvoc; 

Mark 3:17 uioi Ppovtfjg 

Luke 5:34 xoucj uiouc; xou vuucppdJvoc; 

Luke 10:6 v'ioc, £ipf|vr|cj 

Luke 16:8 ol uioi tod edeovoc; xouxou (also in 20:34) 

Luke 20:36 xfjcj dvaaxdaEooc; uioi 

John 17:12 6 uioc; xfjc; anai'keia.c, 

Acts 4:36 v'ioc, 7rapaKA.fja£cocj 

Rom 9:8 xd xekvci Tfjc; enayyeX'iac, 

Gal 4:28 enayyzXiac, xekvcx 

Eph 2:2 idlcj uiolcj xfjc; dTrsiGeiac; (also in 5:6) 

Eph 2:3 xekvci (puaei opyfjcj 

Eph 5:8 xekvci (peoxdej 

Col 1:13 xou ulou xfjc; dyd7rr|cj auxou 

Col 3:6 xoucj ulouc; xfjc; dTrsvOsiac; (textual?) 

1 Pet 1:14 xekvci imaKofjcj 

2 Pet 2:14 Kaxdpac; xekvci 


Reference Text 


Rom 1:26 uExrj^Aac^av xf|v (puaiKr|v XPH CIV ei ? T1 l v rcapd tpuaiv 

Rom 2:14 oxav yap E8vr) . . . (puasi xd xou vouou rcoiwaiv 

Rom 2:27 KpwEi r| ek (puaEox; dKpoPuaxia 

Rom 11:21 si yap 6 Oeocj xwv Kaxd (puaiv kAxxScov ouk £(p£iaaxo 





2 Pet 



Reference Text 

Rom 11:24 el yap au ek xfjc; Kara cpuoiv e^ekojttic; dypieXaiou, Kai 
rtapct tpuatv EVEKEVxpiaGriQ eig KaXk\k'ka\.ov , itoocp ud^>iov 
ouxoi ol Kara cpuoiv EyKEvxpiaGrjoovxai 

1 Cor 11:14 ou5e r\ cpuoic; auxn, SiSdaKei uuag 
Gal 2:15 A^ £ ^ <pua£i ' IouSaloi 

Gal 4:8 eSou^euoatE xol<; cpuaei un, ouoiv Geoic; 

Eph 2:3 fjuEGa xsKva cpuoev opyfjq 

Jas 3:7 rcdaa yap (puau; 6r|pia>v xe Kai nexeivcov . . . Saud^Exai 

. . . xfj (puaei xfj dvGpwnivTi 

2 Pet 1:4 Tva 5id xouxcov yevriaGe Gsiac; kowcovoi (puasax; 


(xexri^a^av xr|v cpuoiKr|v xP^ Glv 

ouoicoc; xe Kai oi dpaeveg dcpevxet; xf|v (pi)aiKf|v xpfl CTlv 

xfj<; QeXeiaq 

(bq dAoya ^wa y£y£vvr|U£va (pixnicd 


Jude 10 oaa Se (puatKcoc; cog xd dAoya £wa eniaxavxai 


Luke 8:6 (puev e^ripavGri 5id xo uf| e/ew iKudSa 

Luke 8:8 (pusv ETtoirjaEv Kapirov EKaxovxarcXaaiova 

Heb 12:15 urj xig (3i^a 7UKpiac; dvco (puouaa Evox^fi 

*Adapted from W. F. Moulton and A. S. Geden, A Concordance to the 
Greek Testament, rev. by H. K. Moulton (5th ed.; Edinburgh: T. and T. 
Clark, 1978) 997. 


I. Argument from the Context of Ephesians 2:1-3: The context treats 
actual sin, not original sin. (See Abbott, Ephesians, 45-46; Foulkes, 
Ephesians, 71; Meyer, Ephesians, 365-66; George B. Stevens, Pauline 
Theology [NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895] 152ff.) 

Answer: 2:1 speaks not only of actual sin but also of sin as a state 
of separation from God. Even so, this may be an example 
of an argument leading up to a climactic statement, ab 
effectu ad causam. 

II. Argument from the Word Order of Ephesians 2:3c: The word order 
of the phrase must be cpuaEi XEKva opyfjc; for the original sin view to 
be true. The position of (puaEV is unemphatic. (See Abbott, Ephesians, 
45; Meyer, Ephesians, 366.) 

Answer: Interpretation of word order is quite subjective, but there 
is some reason to view cpuoEi in its position between XEKva 


and 6pyf\c, as quite emphatic. Even if it is not emphatic it 
could possibly indicate that Paul was implicitly assuming 
hereditary moral corruption. 

III. Argument from the Time Reference of Ephesians 2:3c: The original 
sin view "supposes Kai fjueGa to refer to, or at least include, a time 
prior to ev ou; dv." (See Abbott, Ephesians, 45.) 

Answer: Nothing in the original sin view necessitates this supposi- 
tion. "HueGa does refer to the same time as the previous 
context. At that time, before the Ephesians were con- 
verted, they were deserving objects of God's wrath due to 
innate depravity. 

IV. Argument from the Analogy of Scripture: The ecclesiastical dogma of 
original sin is not Pauline. Paul views actual sin as the reason why 
man is under God's wrath. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 366.) 

Answer: This argument begs the question. It is true that Paul in 
other contexts views wrath coming upon men due to actual 
sin (Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6; e.g.). However, sin, like beauty, "is 
more than skin deep." The Scripture speaks of man's 
conception in a state of sin (Psa 51:5), of his sinful heart 
(Jer 17:9; Matt 15:17-19), of his sinful mind set (Eph 2:3ab; 
4:17-19). The sinful heart (a term implying an innate 
nature or essence) is viewed in Matt 15:19 and Eph 4:18 as 
the root of sinful activity. Ultimately man's nature causes 
him to be under God's wrath. 

V. Argument from Romans 11:17-24: If Paul views the Jews as inborn 
children of wrath, he contradicts his teaching in Rom 11:17-24 where 
he speaks of Jews as the "natural branches" of the olive tree of the 
theocracy. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 366.) 

Answer: Ouoic; in Rom 1 1 is used in an illustration of Israel's 
favored position in God's program. The natural branches 
of the olive tree are Jews who are the objects of God's 
theocratic dealings. The unnatural branches are Gentiles 
who may become objects of God's grace in Christ. Paul's 
perspective in Rom 1 1 is national and positional: the Jews 
naturally enjoyed God's special theocratic favor and the 
Gentiles did not. The perspective in Eph 2:3 is quite differ- 
ent. Here individuals, both Jews and Gentiles, are viewed 
as naturally objects of God's wrath. This is no more 
contradictory than the words of Hos 3:2. Israel's special 
position in God's plan is viewed as a reason for her 

VI. Argument from 1 Cor 7:14: Paul could not have taught an inborn 
liability to wrath for this would contradict his words about the 
children of believers in 1 Cor 7:14. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 366-67.) 


Answer: 1 Cor 7:14 is admittedly a difficult passage. It seems best 
to view the sanctification and holiness spoken of here not 
in an experiential moral sense. Instead there is a sense in 
which the unsaved marriage partner and the children in 
such a home are set apart by the believer there. This is a 
matter of privilege and exposure to Christian testimony. It 
should be noted, however, that whatever "holiness" is 
spoken of in the verse is true of the unbelieving adult 
as well as the children. This weakens Meyer's argument 

VII. Argument from Matthew 18:2ff; 19:14ff: This view of original sin 
contradicts the words of Jesus Christ concerning children, especially 
His promise that whoever becomes like a child will enter the King- 
dom of heaven. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 367.) 

Answer: Our Lord's exhortation was not to become "morally neu- 
tral" or "innocent" as infants are sometime supposed to 
be. Instead His emphasis evidently was upon the humility 
(Matt 18:4) and faith (18:6) of the children. It is neces- 
sary to exercise child-like faith to enter the Kingdom. Jesus 
was certainly not making a blanket statement on infant 




Weston W. Fields 

The Song of Songs provides an excellent background for discuss- 
ing various hermeneutical approaches to the Old Testament. This 
grows out of the large number of different interpretations attached 
through the ages to this enigmatic book. If one is to understand 
Christian interpretation, especially the roots of allegorization, he 
must first understand Jewish interpretation of the book before Chris- 
tianity and afterward. Thus, in this article interpretation of the Song 
is traced from the period of the Septuagint translation through the 
Mishnah and Talmud to the medieval period in order to show when 
and with what effect allegorization came to be the standard method 
of interpreting the book. 


If the language of the Song of Songs is enigmatic, and the canon- 
icity sometimes disputed, its interpretation is both of these com- 
bined. As one surveys the vast array of differing interpretations of 
this song over the centuries, he can certainly sympathize with the 
rather secular perception of one interpreter who says that "it is one of 
the pranks of history that a poem so obviously about hungry passion 
has caused so much perplexity and has provoked such a plethora of 
bizarre interpretations." 1 

But it is the very obviousness of the sexual love of the Song that 
is the root of this variety; for, to the Western Christian Mind explicit 
statements about sexual love and detailed descriptions of the anat- 
omy of the human body, all discussed under a number of unmistak- 
able and rather graphic similes and metaphors, are most embar- 
rassing to read in a book of the Bible. Even later Jewish writers, 

'William E. Phipps, "The Plight of the Song of Songs," JAAR 42 (1974) 15. 


apparently influenced by their Christian counterparts, found the 
sexual descriptions of the Song rather too lucid. 2 

The history of the interpretation of the Song is thus largely the 
history of Jewish and Christian interpreters' methods of dealing with 
this embarrassment, and their commentaries are more often commen- 
taries on themselves and their times than on the Song. 

If one accepts the hermeneutical principle that the primary goal 
of the interpreter is to discover the original meaning and intention of 
the author of a biblical book, he must try as much as is possible to let 
himself be controlled in his interpretations by the same cultural 
norms which controlled the writers. In the case of the Song of 
Solomon, the interpreter must be especially careful that he does not 
judge the book on the basis of his Western culture, question its 
canonicity, and allegorize its historical meaning away so completely 
that its original intention, meaning, and use are entirely obscured. If a 
great many of the interpreters over the centuries have been unable to 
do that, let judgment not fall too harshly upon them: one must first 
judge himself. 

An important piece in the hermeneutical puzzle is the contribu- 
tion of early Jewish scholars. The song is, after all, Jewish in origin 
and use. And while ancient indications about its early interpretation 
are neither authoritative nor binding, they are often instructive — even 
essential — for understanding interpretations that came later, especially 
during medieval, reformation, and modern times. 

This article, therefore, explores Jewish interpretation of the Song 
of Solomon from the earliest records of such endeavors through the 
medieval period in order to demonstrate that (1) there is no record of 
allegorization in the earliest period and (2) allegorization became the 
predominant method of interpretation in the later periods. A subse- 
quent study may trace Christian interpretation from the apostolic era 
up until the Reformation in order to show similarities and contrasts 
between the two groups in general. 

Such a survey of past interpretations is useful not only because it 
is never wise to ignore the work of those who have previously 
struggled with these same questions, but also because seen in the 
more distinct perspective of time, some interpretations condemn 
themselves and others commend themselves, and the field of possibili- 
ties becomes at once smaller and more comprehensible. 

On the subject of Jewish attitudes toward sex and related matters, including 
adultery and divorce, see Louis M. Epstein, Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism (New 
York: Ktav, 1967). 

fields: interpretation of song of songs 223 

the septuagint 

One might have expected to put the interpretation found in the 
Targumim first in the line of Jewish interpretations, but for reasons 
explained below, it is probably best to consider them later than some 
other interpretations. 

Since all translations in some sense reflect the views of the 
translators, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the LXX in some 
ways reflects the views of the Jews who made it, 3 however unortho- 
dox these Alexandrian Jews are supposed to have been. If the Letter 
of Aristeas is accepted substantially as it stands (as it was at least up 
to and especially by Augustine, who placed it almost on the level of 
the original text), then the translation of the LXX would be dated 
about the middle of the third century B.C., during the reign of 
Ptolemy II. 4 Scholars are not generally disposed to accept it as 
entirely genuine, however, and so usually date the translation later, a 
position most recently defended again by Wurthwein. 5 But whatever 
the decision on that matter, even Jellicoe suggests a terminus ante 
quern of 170 B.C. 6 

It has been thought by some that an allegorical interpretation is 
already evident in the LXX translation of the Song of Songs. The 
main passage adduced to prove this alleged allegorism is 4:8, where 
the LXX renders H30X tfJNIft by and dpxfjg Ttiotecog, "from the top 
of faith," for the Hebrew "from the top of Amana." But the weakness 
of this argument is obvious to anyone familiar with the inconsistent, 
sometimes almost capricious way that the LXX, Josephus, and others 
transliterate and translate Hebrew proper names. It is further dis- 
proved by the rendering of n^*iri, "Tirzah," by euSoKia, "delight," 
(6:4), and of 3H3 TI2, "noble daughter," by Guyatep NaSdB "daughter 
of Nadab," (7:2), "whence it is evident that the Septuagint frequently 

3 Orlinsky cautions, however, that just because the LXX translators often rendered 
the text literally word-for-word does not mean that they understood it that way (Harry 
M. Orlinsky, "The Septuagint As Holy Writ and the Philosophy of the Translators," 
HUCA 46 [1975] 106). 

4 Augustine, The City of God, 18:42, 43; Sidney Jellicoe, The Septuagint and 
Modern Study (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968) 47. Cf. also the very excellent "History of 
the Septuagint Text" in Alfred Rahlfs, ed., Septuaginta, Vol. I (Stuttgart: Wurtem- 
bergische Bibelanstalt, 1935) xxii-xxxi; and Ernst Wurthwein, The Text of the Old 
Testament, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 49-68. 

5 Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, 51-53. Cf. H. B. Swete, Introduction 
to the Old Testament in Greek (2nd ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1902) 1-28; 
and Paul Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1959) 209-15. For an 
introduction to and the full text of the letter, see Herbert Andrews, "The Letter of 
Aristeas" in A POT, 2. 83-122. 

Jellicoe, The Septuagint and Modern Study, 49. 


mistook proper names for appellatives and adjectives, and vice versa." 7 
There does not seem to be any indication otherwise that the early 
Jews allegorized the Song, though such a practice would not have 
been particularly surprising even in this early period. 


Dated about the end of the fourth century b.c. to the upper half 
of the third century B.C., 8 Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus, Sirach, Ben 
Sirach) is possibly older than the LXX translation. 9 The author often 
approaches an artistic level of Hebrew comparable to that of the OT, 
so steeped was he in the classical tradition. 10 

The first of the passages which have been used to prove that Ben 
Sira reflects allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon is 
47:17. Speaking in an apostrophe to Solomon, 47:17 says: ev cpSctic; 
Kai Ttapoiuiouc; Kai 7tapa(k>Xaiq Kai ev epuvr)eiai<; dTieGauuaadv ae 
Xwpai, "by your songs, proverbs, 11 parables, and interpretations 12 you 
caused the people astonishment." This is the Greek translation of the 
Hebrew words Tttf, 7$J3, rPin and H^^p. 13 Ben Sira was referring 
to all the works generally accorded him by the OT (Prov. 1:6 and 
1 Kgs 4:32). 14 By this reference to Solomon's 7tapa|3o?iai<; aiwiyvaTcov, 
"riddles, dark sayings," in 47:15, some have concluded that he was 
referring to hidden allegories in the Song of Solomon. 15 It seems, 
however, that since Solomon's songs are mentioned separately, Ben 
Sira is not referring to inherent allegories in the Song of Solomon. 

'Christian David Ginsburg, The Song of Songs and Coheleth (New York: Ktav, 
reprinted, 1970) 21. 

8 G. H. Box and W. O. E. Oesterley, "Sirach," A POT, 1. 294. For a short 
introduction and more up-to-date bibliography, see Leonhard Rost, Judaism Outside 
the Hebrew Canon, trans. David E. Green (Nashville: Abingdon, 1971) 64-69. 

Box and Oesterley, "Sirach," 294. 

Tadeuz Penar, Northwest Semitic Philology and the Hebrew Fragments of Ben 
Sira (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1975) 2. 

U LSJ, 1342. 

12 Ibid., 690. 

13 For the usage of these and other words in Sirach, see D. Barthelemy and O. 
Rickenbacher, eds., Konkordanz zum Hebraischen Sirach (Gbttingen: Vandenhoeck & 
Ruprecht, 1973). For further comparison between the Hebrew text and the LXX, see 
Elmar Camilo Dos Santos, An Expanded Hebrew Index for the Harch-Redpath 
Concordance to the Septuagint (Jerusalem: Dugith, n.d.). See also Yigael Yadin, The 
Ben Sira Scroll from Masada (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1965). 

14 Box and Oesterley translate from the Hebrew: "By thy songs, parables, dark 
speeches, and satires thou didst cause astonishment to the peoples ("Sirach," 498). 

15 There is a textual variant here where the Hebrew text is mutilated. Box and 
Oesterley translate "And didst gather parables like the sea," following another variant 
(ibid., 497). 

fields: interpretation of song of songs 225 

the book of wisdom 

The apocryphal book of Wisdom (of Solomon) has also been 
supposed to support the allegorical interpretation of the Song of 
Solomon. Dating from about the middle of the second century B.C., 16 
the book states in 8:2, representing Solomon as speaking to Wisdom: 
Tauiriv ecpiX.r|aa Kai e£e£/nrr|aa 8K veoTr|T6<; uou Kai e^rjiriaa 
vuu(pr|v dyayeaGai euaircw Kai tpaaxr\q eyevour|v toO KdM.ouc; auxfjc;, 
"Her I loved and sought since my youth to bring her (home) for my 
own bride, and I became an admirer of her beauty." Because Solomon 
is here made to speak of Wisdom as his bride, it has been supposed 
that this is an explanation of the Song of Songs, as though the brides 
were the same. But only a perusal of the two books will convince the 
reader that there is no intentional resemblance whatever. 1 


Josephus (a.d. 37-95) is supposed to have understood the Song 
in an allegorical sense, but it is never quoted by him. The ground of 
this contention is his arrangement of the books of the OT. Of the 
twenty-two books he mentions as canonical (id 5ikcuco<; [Geia] 
7U£7uaT£uu£va), 18 he describes five as Mosaic, ascribes thirteen to "the 
prophets," and ai 8e Aoircai teaaapec; uuvouc; eig tov 0edv Kai toic; 
dvGpamoic; imoGrJKac; tou (Mod rcepiexouaiv, "the remaining four are 
hymns to God and rules for the life of men" (Psalms, Job, Proverbs, 
and Ecclesiastes). 19 Thus, he would have placed the Song among the 
prophets, and would have interpreted it allegorically. 20 But since 
Josephus also puts such historical books as Esther and Ruth among 
the prophets, it cannot follow that all "prophetical" writings were 
interpreted allegorically automatically, though it is true that both 
of them were sometimes interpreted allegorically as well. 21 Further- 
more, Leiman makes a good case for putting the Song in the last 
classification. 22 

16 Samuel Holmes, "Wisdom of Solomon," APOT, 1. 520; cf. Rost, Judaism 
outside the Hebrew Canon, 56-60. 

17 A conclusion reached as far back as Ginsburg (Song of Songs and Coheleth, 
p. 23). 

18 Josephus, Against Apion, 1:8:39 (in the Loeb Classical Library edition). 

19 Ibid., 1:8:40. 

20 See Johann Friedrich Kleuker, Samlung der Gedichte Salomons sonst der 
Hohelied oder Lied der Lieder (Hamburg: ben Philipp Heinrich Perrenon, 1780) 54; 
and W. E. Henstenberg, Das Hohelied Salomonis (Berlin: Verlag von Ludwig 
Dehmigfe, 1853) 255. 

21 Ginsburg prefers to place the book among the last four mentioned, though he 
does not explain how the five are then added up by Josephus as four (Ginsburg, Song 
of Songs and Coheleth, 23). 

22 Sid Z. Leiman, The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture, vol. 47 of Transactions 
of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1976) 32-33. 



The book of 4 Ezra, also dating from about the middle of the 
second century B.C., is sometimes claimed as one of the earliest 
indications of the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon 
by Jews. 23 Concerning this Audet states: "En premier lieu, il est 
inexact d'affirmer que 'les Juifs ont toujours entendu le Cantique au 
sens allegorique. , " 24 He contends that "le plus ancien temoignage 
connu d'une telle interpretation est celui de IV Esdras, V, 24-26; VII, 
26, et encore est-il loin d'etre decisif." 25 It would appear that the 
passage is less than decisive indeed, but following are the verses that 
have been used: "And I said: O Lord my Lord, out of all the woods 
of the earth and all the trees thereof thou hast chosen thee one vine; 
out of all the lands of the world thou hast chosen thee one planting 
ground; out of all the flowers of the world thou hast chosen thee one 
lily; out of all the depths of the sea thou hast replenished for thyself 
one river; out of all the cities that have been built thou hast sanctified 
Sion unto thyself" (4 Ezra 5:23-26a). 26 

The figures allegedly taken from the Song of Solomon and 
interpreted allegorically are the lily (Cant 2:2); the dove (Cant 2:14); 
and the stream (Cant 4:15). Box accepts this as an indication that the 
allegorical interpretation was in vogue, 27 but the hesitancy of Audet 
to draw this conclusion is commendable. Even if this would prove an 
allegorical interpretation by the writer of 4 Ezra, it would not prove 
such was normative for all Jews at that time. 


The work known as the Talmud (completed ca. 5th-6th centuries 
a.d.) consists primarily of two parts: the Mishnah, which constitutes 
the text, and the Gemara, which constitutes the commentary by the 
Amoraim or public lecturers on the Mishnah. The study of the 
Mishnah was pursued in two main geographical locations: Babylon 
and Tiberias. The Gemara from Babylon is called the Babylonian 

Leiman puts Job among the prophetical books so that the last section of Josephus 
contains Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. See also Leiman, ed., 
The Canon and Masorah of the Hebrew Bible (New York: Ktav, 1974). 

23 G. H. Box, "4 Ezra," A POT, 2. 552-53; Rost, Judaism outside the Hebrew 
Canon, 120-25. 

24 "ln the first place, it is inaccurate to conclude that 'the Jews always interpreted 
the Song allegorically' " (Jean-Paul Audet, "Le Sens du Cantique des Cantiques," RB 
62 [1955] 200). 

25 "The most ancient testimony known of such an interpretation is that of 4 Ezra 
5:24-26; 7:26, and yet it is far from being decisive" (ibid.). 

26 Box, "4 Ezra," 571. 

27 Ibid., n. on v 23. 

fields: interpretation of song of songs 227 

Talmud, and that from Tiberias is called the Jerusalem Talmud, and 
both of these together with the Mishnah are called the Talmud, 
though the distinction is generally made between the Babylonian and 
Jerusalem or Palestinian. 28 

In the Mishnah, Yadaim 3:5, there are some interesting state- 
ments about the Song of Songs. One is the assertion, quoted more 
fully above, of its canonicity: "All the Holy Scriptures render the 
hands unclean. The Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes render the hands 
unclean." 29 It is further stated that Rabbi Akiba said: "God forbid! — 
no man in Israel ever disputed about the Song of Songs (that he 
should say) that it does not render the hands unclean, for all the ages 
are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to 
Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy 
of Holies." 30 This is to some an indication that Rabbi Akiba inter- 
preted the Song allegorically. It is true that it is difficult to understand 
his hyperbolic language if he did not. 

It is quite evident that by the time the Talmud was complete the 
allegorical interpretation of the Song was accepted. From a gemara in 
Tractate Sanhedrin comes this fascinating application of Cant 7:3 to 
the Sanhedrin itself: 

Gemara: Whence is this [i.e., the seating of the Sanhedrin] deduced? 
Said R. Aha b. Hanina: From (Solomon's Song, vii.3): "Thy navel is 
like a round goblet which lacketh not the mixed wine." By "navel" is 
meant the Sanhedrin. And why were they named navel? Because they 
used to sit in the middle of the world (according to the Talmud, 
Jerusalem was the middle of the world and the Temple was in the 
centre of Jerusalem), and also protected the whole world. And why 
were they named a "round goblet"? Because the Sanhedrin sat in a 
circle: "Which lacketh not the mixed wine" — i.e., if one wished to 

28 Hermann L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Philadelphia: 
Jewish Publication Society of America, 1931) 5-6; cf. Curt Leviant, ed., Masterpieces 
of Hebrew Literature (New York: Ktav, 1969) 97-98; R. Travers Herford, Christianity 
in Talmud and Midrash (reprinted; New York: Ktav, 1975); Alan Corre, Understand- 
ing the Talmud (New York: Ktav, 1975); Richard N. Soulen, Handbook of Biblical 
Criticism (Atlanta: John Knox, 1976) 159; Irving A. Agus, review of Abraham I. 
Katsh, Ginze Talmud Babli, JQR 68 (1977) 121-26; and David Weiss Halivni, 
Contemporary Methods of the Study of Talmud, JJS 30 (1979) 192-201. 

29 Herbert Danby, ed. and trans., The Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University, 
reprinted, 1974) 781. As background for the Mishnah, see Jacob Neusner, The Modern 
Study of the Mishnah (Leiden: Brill, 1973) and J. Weingreen, From Bible to Mishnah 
(New York: Holmes and Meier, 1976). On the relationship between Christian herme- 
neutics and Rabbinics, see Raymond F. Surburg, "Rabbinical Writings of the Early 
Christian Centuries and New Testament Interpretation," CTM 43 (1979) 273-85. 
Danby, The Mishnah, 782. For the connection of the Song with the dances 
performed on the 15th of Ab, as related in the Mishnah, cf. M. H. Segal, "The Song of 
Songs," VT 12 (1962) 485-87. 


leave, it must be seen that besides him twenty-three remained, and if 
there were less, he must not. 31 

Thus, it is during the Christian era that one first encounters 
indubitably allegorical interpretations of the Song of Solomon at the 
hands of the Jews. 


The Midrashim are biblical expositions coming from the Mish- 
naic and Talmudic periods. They consist of Halakah, 32 statements 
about law, and Haggada, statements of a non-halakic character, 
principally something devotional, or something which "transcends the 
first impression conveyed by the scriptural expression." 33 Most of the 
Midrashic statements on the Song would be Haggada. 

A specimen of such allegory is found in Mekilta (Exodus), 
Shirata, Beshallah, § 3: 

R. Akiba said: I will speak of the beauty and praise of God before all 
the nations. They ask Israel and say, 'What is your beloved more than 
another beloved that "thou dost so charge us' (Cant. V, 9), 'that you die 
for Him, and that you are slain for Him' as it says, 'Therefore till death 
do they love Thee' (a pun on Cant. I, 3), and 'For thy sake are we slain 
all the day' (Ps. XLIV, 22). 'Behold,' they say, 'You are beautiful, you 
are mighty, come and mingle with us.' But the Israelites reply, 'Do you 
know Him: We will tell you a portion of His renown; my beloved is 
white and ruddy; the chiefest among ten thousand' (Cant. V, 10). When 
they hear Israel praise Him thus, they say to the Israelites, 'We will go 
with you,' as it is said, 'Whither has your beloved turned him that we 
may seek him with you?' (Cant. VI, 1). But the Israelites say, 'You have 
no part or lot in Him,' as it is said, 'My beloved is mine, and I am His' 
(Cant. II, 16). 34 

There are other midrashim of another sort, such as the one 
which reports that "On the day on which Solomon married Necha, 
Pharaoh's daughter, the foundation of Rome — Israel's persecutor and 
oppressor — was laid by the angel Michael." 35 The Midrash on 1:5, "I 
am black but comely," states: "So says the house of Israel: I am, to 
my knowlege, black, yet my God considers me comely." 36 

31 Michael L. Rodkinson, ed. and trans., New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, 
vols. 7, 8: section Jurisprudence (Damages), Tract Sanhedrin, 110. 

32 On which see Ze'ev W. Falk, Introduction to the Jewish Law of the Second 
Commonwealth, 1 (Leiden: Brill, 1972). 

33 Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, 6-7. 

34 Cited in C. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology (London: 
Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1938) 101-2, §263. 

35 Samuel Rapaport, A Treasury of the Midrash (New York: Ktav, 1968) 172. 

36 Ibid., 167. 

fields: interpretation of song of songs 229 

But even within the framework of midrashic interpretation, the 
use of the book was limited. "It was prohibited to use a text of 
Canticles from which one would develop a homily having a shameful 
or odious implication." 37 As noted above, Akiba, for example warns 
that "any one who would dare treat this book as a secular love poem 
forfeits his share in the World to Come." 38 Another passage carried 
the consequence even further: "the penalty would not be restricted to 
the individual but would jeopardize the welfare of all mankind." 39 

There is a considerable difference between the Commentaries and 
Midrashim on the "Song of Songs" and those on the other books of 
T'nach. The principle (Shabbath 63a) 1D1U7D 'TO K2TP X"lpO PX, 
that no verse of the Torah may be divorced from its plain meaning, 
does not apply to D'TU^il TU? [the Song of Songs]. On the contrary, 
our sages explain (Sanhedrin 101a) "Those who recite a verse of 
DTWn TW as they would a common song, or who read its verses in 
inappropriate circumstances, bring evil to the world, because the Torah 
wraps itself in sackcloth, and standing before the Holy One, blessed be 
He, complains: "Master of the World, Your children have made me a 
harp on which mockers play. . . ." 40 

One final sample will suffice to demonstrate midrashic interpre- 
tation. On Cant 1:2, "For your love is better than wine," the midrash 

Here the words of the Torah are compared to wine. Just as wine makes 
the heart of man rejoice, as written in Psalms 104:15 23/ nOW 7 ,, 1 
UH3 X "and wine makes glad the heart of man," so does the Torah, 
Psalms 19:9 V3 TTOtPO WnVT Tl 'Tlj?D "the ordinances of the Lord 
are right, making the heart rejoice." — Just as wine brings joy to the 
body, so do the words of the Lord comfort the soul: Ps. 94:19 '^33 
IJNtfVW TOin3n "Thy comforts delight my soul." — Furthermore, the 
older the wine, the better it becomes, and with the iTTin "HDT the 
words of the Torah, the longer they are instilled in man the more 
effective they become. 41 


Because the legends in it seem to be rather late, and because it 
makes mention of the Gemara (the last part of the Talmud, com- 
pleted ca. a.d. 450-500), the Targum on the Song of Solomon is 

"Samuel Tobias Lachs, "Prolegomena to Canticles Rabba," JQR 55 (1965) 237, 
citing Cant. R. 1:12 (2:4). 

38 Ibid., citing Tosef. Sanh. 12, 10. 

39 Ibid., citing Sanh. 101a. 

40 Yitzhak I. Broch, The "Song of Songs" As Echoed in Its Midrash (New York: 
Philipp Feldheim, n.d.) 8-9. 

Ibid., 12. A further instance of such midrashic interpretation of the Song may be 
seen in Menahem M. Kasher, ed., Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, 9 (reprinted; 
New York: Ktav, 1979), the comments on Exod 19:10, p. 74. 


usually dated considerably later than much of the other targumic 
material. Ginsburg argues for a date about the middle of the sixth 
century, when the Talmuds would have been already complete, 42 but 
Loewe would date it even later yet. 43 

As an aid to the interpretation of the Song the Targum is almost 
useless, because it allegorizes it beyond recognition. 44 It is, in fact, 
considered by some to be primarily an anti-Christian (pro-Jewish) 
apologetic. 45 But as a hermeneutical warning, the Targum is priceless: 
it shows where the unbridled allegorization of the Song may lead. 

A few examples from this Targum will suffice to demonstrate its 
character. On 1:2, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for 
thy love is better than wine," the Targum says: "Solomon, the 
prophet said: Blessed be the Name of the Lord, who hath given us the 
Law by the hand of Moses, the great Scribe — a Law inscribed upon 
the two tablets of stone, and hath given us the six orders of the 
Mishnah and the Gemarah by oral tradition, and communed with us 
face to face, as a man that kisses his fellow out of the abundance of 
his affection, loving us, as He does, more than the seventy nations." 46 

On 2:1, "I am the narcissus of Sharon, the rose of the valleys," 
the Targum comments: "The Assembly of Israel speaketh: As long 
as the Sovereign of the Universe suffers His Divine Presence to 
dwell in my midst, I am like the narcissus fresh from the Garden 
of Eden, my actions are comely as the rose in the plain of the 
flower-garden of Eden." 47 

42 Ginsburg, Song of Songs and Coheleth, 28. 

43 Raphael Loewe, "Apologetic Motifs in the Targum to the Song of Songs," in 
Biblical Motifs, ed. by Alexander Altmann (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1966) 
163-69. For the hermeneutics of the targumim, see Daniel Patte, Early Jewish 
Hermeneutic in Palestine (SBLDS 22; Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975) 55-81, and for a 
bibliography of literature up to 1966, see R. Le Deaut, Introduction a la Litterature 
Targumique (Rome: Institut Biblique Pontifical, 1966); and up to 1972 in Bernard 
Grossfeld, A Bibliography of Targum Literature (2 vols.; New York: Ktav, 1972). 

44 Still, John Gill considered it valuable enough to append to his commentary, 
possibly because he, too, allegorized the Song (John Gill, An Exposition of the Book 
of Solomon's Song, Commonly Called Canticles [London: Aaron Ward, 1728]). 

45 Loewe, "Apologetic Motifs in the Targum to the Song of Songs," 173-84. 

46 Herman Gollancz, trans., "The Targum to 'The Song of Songs,' " in The Targum 
to the Five Megilloth, edited by Bernard Grossfeld (New York: Hermon Press, 1973) 

47 For the text of the Targum, cf. mV'm niN"l[?73, 1, ad be. Texts with 
Babylonian pointing can be found in Alexander Sperber, rPftlNS UHpn , 2D3, N- 
1 "]"1D (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968); and Raphael Hai Melamed, "The Targum to 
Canticles According to Six Yemen MSS, compared with the Textus Receptus' (ed. De 
Lagarde)," JQR 10 (1920) 377-410 and 12 (1921) 57-1 17. He notes (10, p. 380) that an 
official Targum to the Hagiographa never existed, but that all the books except Ezra, 
Nehemiah, and Daniel had Targumim, of which this one is a part. For a further 
interesting description of this Targum, and a comparison of the midrash with the 

fields: interpretation of song of songs 231 

The Targum, as Joiion notes, 48 apparently developed its allegor- 
ical interpretation from the kinds of statements found in the Midrash. 
It takes the Song to be a representation of the history of Israel 
beginning with the Exodus through the building of the third temple, 
and the coming of the Messiah, of which there are two mentioned: 
Messiah ben David and Messiah ben Ephraim. 49 


The article set out to demonstrate that (1) there is no record of 
allegorization in the earliest period of Jewish history; and (2) that 
allegorization became the predominant method of interpretation 
among the Jews in the later periods. It was shown that no allegoriza- 
tion can be discovered in the LXX (Hebrew canon), Ben Sira, the 
book of Wisdom (of Solomon), Josephus, or 4 Ezra. But beginning 
with the Talmud, and continuing with the Midrashim and Targumim, 
allegorization took over as the accepted method for interpreting the 

Though the history given here is only partial, and needs to be 
complemented by a study of concurrent Christian interpretation, 
as well as an investigation of both Christian and Jewish interpretation 
in subsequent centuries, it does serve to point out that once one has 
loosed himself from the moorings of literal interpretation (in the best 
and widest sense of that term) he has precluded any assurance that 
the composer of the Song has communicated to him what he intended 
to communicate. Through allegorization the reader of the Song will 
no doubt receive some kind of communication; but it is highly 
doubtful that it will be what the author intended to say. And here is 
the problem: if the Song can say anything, then it says nothing. And 
that is why it is important to establish that as far as the evidence now 
available is concerned, the allegorization of the Song of Songs was 
not the original or even the earliest method of interpretation; it was a 
later development. There is, therefore, no compelling historical rea- 
son from early Jewish and early medieval interpretation for contin- 
uing allegorization of the Song today. 

Targum, cf. Leon J. Liebreich, "The Benedictory Formula in the Targum to the Song 
of Songs," HUCA 18 (1944) 177-97. 

48 P. Joiion, Le Cantique des Cantiques (Paris: Gabriel Beauchesne & C ie , 1909) 28. 

49 Bernard Grossfeld, "Introduction," in The Targum to the Five Megilloth, ed. by 
Grossfeld, viii. 


The Rise of Civilization from Early Farmers to Urban Society in the Ancient 
Near East, by Charles L. Redman. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1978. Pp. 
367. $13.50, paper and $22.00, cloth. 

There are very few volumes which have attempted to encompass the vast 
subject area of this book, a feature which in itself makes it a valuable source 
of information. In essence, this volume represents an attempt to recreate the 
conditions and causes for the rise of civilization in the Ancient Near East. To 
quote the preface, "This book tells, within a single volume, the story of the 
rise of ancient Near East civilization from these early beginnings." Perhaps its 
most valuable feature is that it does this in one volume in which much of the 
archaeological and anthropological information is gathered, thereby sparing 
the interested person the time-consuming steps of searching out the infor- 
mation himself. 

A quick glance at the large number of commentaries on Genesis, coupled 
with observing the intense interest in the book on a general level, has always 
elicited, on my part, the surprising observation that there is such a marked 
disinterest in things not stated in Genesis. In other words, there is simply no 
interest in events which occurred from the Flood to the rise of civilization. 
This feature is almost certainly traceable to the controversy over the age of 
the earth. Nonetheless, this disinterest is unfortunate, since a good part of 
man's existence on earth fits into that period. It is precisely in this area that 
this volume can help to redress the misemphasis of the present. 

The volume at hand, however, is not without its faults and limitations. 
The average person will have to learn a whole new vocabulary (or at least 
tolerate many technical terms) in order to understand the volume. Nor is it 
always possible to agree with Redman's theorizing. For example, on p. 101, 
food gathering of both hunting and gathering groups is said to have been a 
comparatively easy task while by p. Ill, it became increasingly difficult for 
sedentarized man to revert back to that simple semi-sedentary state. Further- 
more, the dating system is established on the basis of Carbon-14 as well as 
more modern methods which have produced dates unacceptable to those of 
us convinced of a young earth. Still, most of his dates are established through 
pottery and stratigraphic analysis (p. 189). On the other hand, throughout the 
volume, one gets the feeling that he must read more quickly lest the 
statements become outdated! 

On the whole, however, the book will fill the needs for which it was 
intended. Its primary strength, in my opinion, is its plethora of charts, 
illustrations, and maps which are truly valuable to have in one volume. The 
first chapter, "The Environmental Background: Nature Sets the State," is 
worth the price of the book. It is as good an introduction to the geography of 


the Near East as one can find. The same could be said for the intended 
purpose of the book. Used with discretion, it will help anyone interested in 
that mysterious period of time in man's history which is not discussed in 

Donald Fowler 

Themes in Old Testament Theology, by William Dyrness. Downers Grove: 
Inter Varsity Press, 1979. Pp. 252. $5.95. Paper. 

The title of this volume (i.e.. Themes) intimates a new approach (really a 
return to an older approach) among contemporary studies in OT theology. 
Dyrness, a systematic theologian who is quite well versed in OT studies, has 
provided for students and pastors alike a profitable survey of the key 
theological concepts of the OT. Motivated by an admirable concern that 
most Christians need to remedy a case of mental atrophy in the area of the 
theological significance of the OT (pp. 15-17), Dyrness commendably has 
organized and interrelated a number of themes. 

A reluctance to conform the various data into one unifying concept does 
justice to a truly biblical theology. On the other hand, the author's stress 
upon thematic interrelationships guards against fragmentation. One excerpt 
will serve to illustrate his sound procedure: 

We need to remind ourselves of the underlying unity of OT theology. The 
covenant rests on the nature of God; the law expresses the covenant relation- 
ship, and the cult and piety grow together out of the covenant relationship 
defined in the law. But piety does not stand alone; it naturally expressed itself in 
the moral life of the community, what we will discuss here as ethics. . . . Nor is 
wisdom . . . unrelated to all of this. It is but the description of the concrete form 
of life in the covenant. This unified understanding is especially important in the 
OT where all of life relates to God and his purposes (p. 171). 

Many good definitions are the result of the abbreviated treatments of 
these themes; however, this abbreviation also leads to several predictable 
shortcomings. Periodically, anemic or eccentric generalizations are mani- 
fested. Also, in his struggles with contemporary misconceptions, there are 
times when the author seems to over-correct (cf., e.g., on "The Fear of the 
Lord," pp. 161-62). Although there are a few apparent capitulations or 
accommodations to modern scholarship (e.g., the Genesis account of creation 
and some concessions to a secular interpretation of geology, p. 66), Dyrness' 
conservative presuppositions are quite refreshing. 

A perusal of this volume is time well spent. The following discussions are 
noteworthy: "Anthropomorphisms," under the heading of "Media of Revela- 
tion," pp. 43-44; "The Holiness of God" and "The Righteousness of God" 
under "The Character and Activity of God," pp. 51-57; the implications of 
God's IDn and TOOK, pp. 58-59; "Myth and History in the OT," pp. 68-83; 
the significance of man in the image of God and dominion, pp. 83-84; the 
significance of 3/ and DT, pp. 89-92; the synthesis of the biblical data 
pertaining to covenant, p. 124; a balanced introduction to grace and law, pp. 
129-30; and chapter 10, "Ethics." 

George J. Zemek, Jr. 


Mastering New Testament Greek, by W. Harold Mare. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1975 (reprinted 1979). Pp. 251. $9.95. 

"The approach to the study of beginning Greek in this volume ... is 
neither inductive nor deductive. Rather, it is a combination of both. Right 
from the beginning the student is given the necessary principles of grammar 
which are substantially added to from lesson to lesson and combined with 
word frequency vocabularies, analytical charts and paradigms, all to help the 
student see and understand various grammatical principles of the Greek 
language. Then also, from the beginning the student is presented with 
translation exercises similar in content to the Greek text of John, through 
which he can put his grammar into practice." So writes (Preface) the author, 
Dr. W. Harold Mare, professor of NT at Covenant Theological Seminary in 
St. Louis, Missouri. 

Thus, the book avoids the inherent weaknesses of a purely inductive or 
deductive approach to the study of beginning Greek. In addition to present- 
ing beginning Greek grammar, Mare devotes two very helpful sections on 
lesson plans for both Intermediate Greek and Advanced Greek courses. These 
courses can be easily implemented with the use of Mare's work plus several 
older, standard grammars ranging from Dana and Mantey's A Manual 
Grammar of the Greek New Testament (1923, 1955) to R. W. Funk's A 
Beginning Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek (1973) and Blass- 
Debrunner's A Greek Grammar of the New Testament (1973). Mare also 
includes in his lesson plans references to A. T. Robertson's tome, A Grammar 
of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1931) and 
to the very excellent work in Classical Greek by H. W. Smyth {Greek 
Grammar, Harvard University, 1963). 

This reviewer was somewhat disappointed in the omission of one of the 
finest Intermediate Greek grammars available today, i.e., Syntax of New 
Testament Greek by James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery (University 
Press of America, 1979). Perhaps this work appeared upon the scene too late 
for Mare to incorporate it into his work. This reviewer sees Brooks and 
Winbery either replacing or, at least, supplementing the older work of Dana 
and Mantey. 

Mare also includes in his textbook that which he calls Greek Reader 
Texts (taken from the Gospel of John, chaps. 1-5) and Greek Reader Notes 
with grammatical explanations for words or phrases correlated with the 
Texts. Every beginning student will find these of immense value as profi- 
ciency in translation is gained. Supplemental practice sentences (English to 
Greek) are also provided for the student to correlate with the information 
learned in Lessons 5-37. 

One small section of the book is devoted to sample diagramming of 
biblical verses to illustrate most of the constructions found in Scripture. 
Every student (and instructor) will find that these samples will answer most 
of the questions which arise concerning diagramming. Mare, like others, has 
his own structural scheme for diagramming. This reviewer would like to have 
seen one long Pauline hypotactic sentence diagrammed and one illustration 
of how Mare diagrams a nominative and an accusative absolute (although it 
is assumed that the sample genitive absolute, p. 187, gives sufficient clues). 


Also, more samples of the diagramming of participles (both attributive and 
circumstantial) would have been helpful. 

Throughout the book Mare adds tidbits of information that are not 
readily found in other elementary Greek works. One minor negative criticism 
is that his chart on noun accents (p. 4) is more confusing that clarifying and 
could be omitted without detriment to the book. Machen's (New Testament 
Greek for Beginners, Macmillan Company, 1923) simplistic presentation of 
accents is still preferable to this reviewer. Mare's treatment of proclitics and 
enclitics is also somewhat skimpy. Overall, Mare's work is filled with 
challenging parsing exercises and, if utilized, should strengthen this area of 
weakness in most students. 

The book terminates with several helpful charts covering morphology, 
conjugations, declensions, word formation analyses, and much additional 
helpful information, including expressions in modern Greek and an excellent 
vocabulary section (Greek to English and vice versa). 

Unlike Machen, and a few others, the format of this book (like Clarence 
B. Hale's Let's Study Greek, Moody, 1957) tends to be a little imposing to 
"frightened" newcomers to the wonderful world of NT Greek studies. How- 
ever, that problem is overshadowed by the book's obvious improvement over 
most of the current elementary grammars. 

In summary, I am delighted to see the publication of this fine work and 
it undoubtedly (and deservedly) will find its way into many classrooms for 
years to come. The author is to be commended for a job well done! 

John A. Sproule 

Curtis Vaughan and Virtus E. Gideon, A Greek Grammar of the New 
Testament. Nashville: Broadman, 1979. Pp. 236. $9.95. 

The Greek grammar of Vaughan and Gideon (VG), subtitled "A Work- 
book Approach to Intermediate Grammar," is a welcome addition to the 
spectrum of intermediate grammars available. It is one of those books which 
one wishes he would have written because it will be used widely for some time 
to come. 

The book steers a middle course between the more traditional, but now 
in many ways outmoded, approaches of Dana and Mantey or A. T. 
Robertson's (ATR) shorter grammar, and the more linguistically oriented 
grammar of Funk (which is meant to be both a beginning and intermediate 
grammar). It will be necessary, therefore, for those familiar with modern 
linguistic theory and terminology, to supplement VG in the areas of phonol- 
ogy and morphology to the extent that such topics need to be covered in an 
intermediate course. But having to supplement is not nearly so difficult as 
constantly correcting one of the older grammars like Dana and Mantey. And 
perhaps topics like phonology do not need much discussion in an intermedi- 
ate class anyway. 

Among the more prominent theories of teaching intermediate Greek, the 
two most prominent seem to be the "grammar book" theory and the "reading" 
theory. VG combine both of these, but apparently lean toward the latter. 
Those who teach according to the "grammar book" theory evidently believe 


that the way to learn to read Greek is to learn lists and lists of morphological 
and syntactical classifications. Those who teach according to the "reading" 
theory evidently believe that once one has mastered the basic points of syntax 
and morphology, particularly that of the verb, he is ready to begin volume 
reading, for it is native intuition that modern students of Greek lack most, 
and the only way to effect a partial remedy for that is to read large quantities 
of text. While VG is not organized around large quantities of text, it is 
organized around reading, and in the course of its fifty-four lessons (which 
can be done easily at the rate of one per day), the student will have entirely 
read 1 Thessalonians and 1 Peter. Again, it will be necessary to supplement 
this reading with large portions from the Gospels and Acts (for those who 
take the "reading" approach), but the reading of these two books is certainly 
a good beginning. 

One of the most helpful aspects of the book is its inclusion of diagram- 
ming for the explanation of grammatical constructions. While it uses the 
traditional mode of diagramming, which may not have the linguistic cogency 
of, for example, a tagmemic hierarchical diagram, many syntactical phenom- 
ena are capable of description in this form, and students will undoubtedly 
find this aspect of the grammar helpful. 

Following the practice of ATR, VG lists the part of speech (id uepn. xfjg 
\et,£(i)c,) in Greek subtitles, which is commendable once again from the 
standpoint of the linguist. One must constantly fight the impression students 
somehow acquire that NT Greek has only recently been perfectly understood, 
and that all the English classifications of traditional grammar attached to the 
language in grammars of lineal descent from the period of the Renaissance 
were originally attached to it in the first century a.d. Only if understood as 
modern inventions can such descriptions of usage be truly helpful, and the 
contrast between what is given a Greek label and what is not points up some, 
though not all, of these distinctions. 

Those who use the eight-case system of classification will be happy with 
VG because it not only uses it, but explains it well. And no matter what one 
who leans toward Tagmemic Grammar (like the reviewer), or one who leans 
toward Structuralist Grammar (like Funk), may think about such an eight- 
case system of classification, the fact is that one must know it not only just 
because so many of the reference grammars use it, but because it has been a 
useful descriptive tool for a very long time. One should be flexible enough 
that he can "use any of the systems," as I once heard a slightly irritated 
teacher of mine reply to a student who wanted to make momentous exegeti- 
cal distinctions upon the basis of such (contrived) differences in classification. 
Perhaps the solution for that debate would be for R. E. Longacre to simplify 
his An Anatomy of Speech Notions, and apply it to intermediate NT Greek. 

VG has, perhaps, contributed most in its discussion of the verb and 
verbals like the participle and infinitive. It chooses to use the word "mode" 
instead of "mood" in its description of the perspective of the writer. "Mood," 
it says, is a "word which suggests the speaker's attitude of mind when a 
statement is made." "Mode," on the other hand "suggests the manner in 
which the statement is made" (p. 98, n. 1). This explanation of "mode" is 
succinct and clear, and will break new ground for many students. 


VG's discussion of tense is just as clear, and is free from the overstate- 
ments about tense that sometimes characterize grammatical discussions by 
biblical scholars. Its discussion of the aorist is balanced and will not lead 
students into some of the excesses of inference from this tense for which 
commentators are notorious. Its explanation of aktionsart is helpful, and its 
system of classifying the usages of the participles is particularly useful. 

The first appendix, entitled, "Helps for Identifying Verbs" might have 
been entitled "Important Morphemes and What They Mean" because without 
using the word "morpheme" they list the various morphemes of the verb and 
give advice on what to look for in identifying tense, voice, and mode. 

The second appendix consists of "Guidelines for Translation." One could 
have wished for a more thorough discussion of what translation is and is not 
from a linguist's point of view, for translation, after all, is the primary goal of 
the study of Greek. But what is said here is a good start, as long as number 2 
("Take up each word in order and as nearly as possible translate it in the 
order in which it appears in the Greek sentence") is balanced by number 4 
("When you have studied thoroughly each word in a sentence and feel that 
you have a grasp of the meaning of the passage, you are ready to translate the 
total idea into English"). 

One could add that translation, in order to be translation, must be the 
transference of meaning, insofar as that is possible, from one language to 
another. And perhaps one should go farther than just meaning alone, because 
the phonology, morphology, syntax — and one must not forget, such things as 
grammatical hierarchies — all convey more than lexical definitions in a lan- 
guage; they convey impressions and elicit responses. It is for this reason that 
a translation should seek to evoke the same response in its receptor language 
as the original text did in the original language — again, insofar as possible. 

It should, furthermore, be stressed that "words" do not have meaning 
inherent in themselves. That is to say that no combination of phonemes by 
itself has meaning. Only the usage of this combination of sounds in a context 
provides meaning, and the context is more likely to be meaningful if it 
consists of not just a sentence, but at least of a paragraph. These are 
important considerations, especially for scholars of the biblical languages, 
since there seems to be a very ancient tradition of creating pseudo-languages 
in translations of the Bible — languages with the phonology and morphology 
of the receptor language and a hybrid of syntactical features from the source 
and receptor languages. That is not translation, and no theory of inspiration, 
no matter how rigid can be pressed into support of such linguistically fascile 
practices. One must remember when he is teaching a class of intermediate 
Greek students that he is teaching a group of future translators — whether for 
the pulpit or for the public — and only correct training in translation theory 
can produce legitimate translators. Wooden translations are good only for 
interlinears and schoolboy exercises; they are, however, not meant to be read. 
The user of VG would do well to supplement its guidelines for translation 
with these or similar observations. 

On the technical side, the book is an attractive size, the type is a pleasing 
modern font (including the Greek script in which a circumflex appears like a 
hyphen over the letter), and the use of bold type and italics makes the 


organization easy to follow. The bibliography is short, but adequate, and the 
fact that the Baur-Arndt-Gingrich (BAG) lexicon appears in it instead of 
Baur-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker (BAGD) can probably be accounted for by the 
fact that VG was undoubtedly in press when BAGD appeared. 

There are a few of the usual typographical mistakes in a first printing, 
such as ^dwToc; for ^wvxoc; on p. 24, (peoO for Oeou on p. 44, and a missing 
question mark after (ptiycousv on p. 103. 

The book is impressive enough and fills the reviewer's need so well that it 
is presently the text for the first semester of intermediate Greek here in Grace 

Weston W. Fields 

After the Sacrifice, by Walter A. Henrichsen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1979. Pp. 187. $7.95. 

Busy pastors will welcome this book. Its style (popular and devotional) 
and its illustrations make it a very effective tool for all pastors and teachers in 
the preparation of sermons and lessons from the Epistle to the Hebrews. It 
contains many helpful sermonic outlines, expositional helps, and seed 

The author, now associated with the Leadership Foundation, received 
his B.D. degree from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, 
and served on the staff of the Navigators from 1960 to 1978. He writes, not as 
a theologian or biblical linguist, but as one who would share many practical 
insights from the epistle with his readers. 

Throughout, Henrichsen applies the principles of inductive Bible study 
popularized by Robert A. Traina {Methodical Bible Study, The Biblical 
Seminary in New York, 1952) and Oletta Wald {The Joy of Discovery, Bible 
Banner Press, Minneapolis, 1956). The author employs 27 illustrative analyti- 
cal charts, diagrams, and drawings to aid the reader and lead him to a better 
understanding of the grand Christology found in the Epistle to the Hebrews. 
The material is well-organized and easily followed. The charts alone are 
worth the price of the book. 

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book is the inadequate 
handling and misunderstanding of the five warning passages in the epistle. 
His discussions of these warnings are skimpy at best (some are not even 
discussed), and he fails to see the tremendous soteriological importance of 
them. He views the type of person being described in the warning passages as 
true believers rather than apostates {unregenerate persons who fall away to 
perdition, not simply backsliding, cf. Heb 10:39), and he gives no consider- 
ation to alternate views which better explain the biblical data. Here, some 
strength in theology and the biblical languages would have been immensely 

Concerning the well-known warning of Heb 6:3-8, Henrichsen writes, "It 
refers to the child of God who has failed to believe God's promises and obey 
His commands" (p. 78). This statement fails to take into account the entire 
contextual teaching of the epistle and the epistle's own identification of Esau 
as the type of person being described (Heb 12:16). 


The author makes no attempt to face the issue of the conditional 
statements (the "if" clauses) in the epistle nor does he deal with the great 
Biblical doctrine of the perseverance of true saints (the flip side of the Biblical 
doctrine of eternal security). He fails to see the theme that runs throughout 
the epistle, namely, that continuance in the faith is the evidence of genuine 
faith. Further, he fails to deal with the grammatical fact that adjectival 
(substantival) participles in NT Greek such as Trapaneaovia^ (governed by 
the definite article Touq in Heb 6:4) in Heb 6:6 can never be conditional, i.e., 
translated as an "if" clause. Thus the book has some glaring theological and 
(Greek) grammatical weaknesses. 

Another disappointment to this reviewer is the author's tentative conclu- 
sion that Melchizedek was "an Old Testament revelation of Jesus Christ" (p. 
90). Exactly what he means by this is left unclear. Theophanies, of course, are 
never given historical designations in the Bible such as Melchizedek is given 
in Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7. If Henrichsen means "type" by his statement 
then, of course, he is on target. Otherwise, he leaves his readers with a 

Heb 7:3 refers only to Melchizedek's apparent lack of a genealogy (for 
the sake of early Hebrew thought); that he actually had a genealogy is made 
clear in Heb 7:6. Henrichsen does not deal with this problem at all. An 
excellent treatment of the Melchizedekian issue and the warning passages in 
Hebrews can be found in F. F. Bruce's fine work The Epistle to the Hebrews 
(NICNT; Eerdmans, 1964). 

Thus, the book is weakened by the fact that Henrichsen is neither a 
theologian nor a Greek grammarian, yet he has chosen to explain the Book 
of Hebrews, which requires much experience and excellency in both theology 
and Greek grammar. 

On the other side of the ledger, in fairness to Henrichsen and the 
strengths of his work, the book is warmly devotional and Christ exalting. The 
finality of Christ's work of redemption and his superiority to all that was 
foreshadowed under the old Levitical cultus is repeatedly underscored. One 
cannot read this work without having his heart "strangely warmed" and 
having a far deeper appreciation for the person and work of the Lord Jesus 

Despite its theological shortcomings, this reviewer feels that Henrichsen 
has written a very helpful work that will greatly benefit pastors and teachers 
who always find time at a premium and need help with sermonic outlines, 
illustrations, and seed thoughts for both preaching and teaching. 

John A. Sproule 


Ugarit-Forschungen, 10, ed. by Kurt Bergerhof, Manfried Dietrich, and 
Oswald Loretz. (1978). Neukirchener: Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1979. Pp. 520. DM 
154 (Subscription Price, DM 140). 

This ten-year-old annual of Ugaritic studies (with an equal interest in 
biblical studies) is the Cadillac of published materials on Ugarit. There are 
probably two factors which have limited its usage in the West, the first of 
which is its price, a feature that has made it all but impossible for the average 
book buyer. The second is that the title, being written in German, has 
frightened many students away. In fact, sixteen of its twenty-nine major 
articles are in English. Its articles represent the highest academic quality. The 
annual is also characterized by a Kurzbeitrage section (brief contributions). 
There are about fifty pages of book reviews in areas of equal interest to both 
the biblical and Ugaritic scholar. One of the features that has made the work 
so usable has been an extensive index section, which covers all foreign words, 
literature passages, personal names, and general topics. All things considered, 
the volume should be in the library of every school in which biblical studies 
are taught. The following is a list of the main articles: 

Aartun, K. "Textuberlieferung und vermeintliche Belege der Konjunktion pV 

im Alten Testament," pp. 1-14. 
Alster, B. "Enki and Ninhursag, The Creation of the First Woman," pp. 15-28. 
Avishur, Y. "The Second Amulet Incantation from Arslan-Tash," pp. 29-36. 
Del Olmo Lete, G. "Notes on Ugaritic Semantics IV," pp. 37-46. 
Del Olmo Lege, G. "The Ugaritic War Chariot. A New Translation of KTU 

4.392 (PRU V, 105)," pp. 47-52. 
Dietrich, M. — Loretz, O. "Das 'seefahrende Volk' von Sikila (RS 34.129)," 

pp. 53-56. 
Dietrich, M. — Loretz, O. "Die sieben Kunstwerke des Schmiedegottes in 

KTU 1.4 I 23-43," pp. 57-64. 
Dietrich, M. — Loretz, O. "Bemerkungen zum Aqhat-Text. Zur ugaritischen 

Lexikographie (XIV)," pp. 65-72. 
Emerton, J. A. "A Further Note on CTA 51 4-6," pp. 73-78. 
Gorg, M. "Zur Westpolitik der babylonischen Kassiten,", pp. 79-82. 
Healey, J. F. "Ritual Text KTU 1.161— Translation and Notes," pp. 83-88. 
Healey, J. F. "MLKM/RPUM and the KISPUM," pp. 89-92. 
Heyer, R. "Ein archaologischer Beitrag zum Text KTU 1.4 I 23-43," pp. 

Loewenstamm, S. E. "Balloti b e saman ra ca nan," pp. 111-14. 
Loretz, O. "Altorientalischer Hintergrund sowie inner- und nachbiblische 

Entwicklung des aaronitischen Segens (Num 6,24-26)," pp. 115-20. 
Loretz, O. "Die ASTRUM-Texte (I)," pp. 121 60. 

Macdonald, J. "The Unique Ugaritic Personnel Text KTU 4.102," pp. 161-74. 
Mayer, W. "Gendanken zum Einsatz von Streitwagen und Reitern in neu- 

assyrischer Zeit," pp. 175-86. 


Moor, J. C. de. "The Art of Versification in Ugaritic and Israel. II: The 

Formal Structure," pp. 187-218. 
Neufeld, E. "Apiculture in Ancient Palestine (Early and Middle Iron Age) 

within the Framework of the Ancient Near East," pp. 219-48. 
Pardee, D. "The Semitic Root mrr and the Etymology of Ugaritic mr(r)/ / 

brk," pp. 249-88. 
Pardee, D. "Letters from Tel Arad," pp. 289-336. 
Priebatsch, H. Y. "Der Weg des semitischen Perfekts," pp. 337-48. 
Sanmartin, J. "Glossen zum ugaritischen Lexikon (II)," pp. 349-56. 
Sauer, G. "Die Ugaritistik und die Psalmenforschung, II," pp. 357-86. 
Tsumura, D. T. "A Problem of Myth and Ritual Relationship — CTA 23 (UT 

52): 56-57 Reconsidered," pp. 387-96. 
Watson, W. G. E. "Parallels to some Passages in Ugaritic," pp. 397-402. 
Wegner, I. "Regenzauber im Hattiland," pp. 403-10. 
Weinfeld, M. "Burning Babies in Ancient Israel. A Rejoinder to Morton 

Smith's Article in JAOS 95 (1975), pp. 477-79," pp. 411-16. 

The Bible in its Literary Milieu: Contemporary Essays, ed. by Vincent L. 
Tollers and John R. Maier. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. 447. 
$10.95. Paper. 

Schokel, Luis Alonso. "The Psychology of Inspiration," pp. 24-56. 
Frye, Northrop. "Theory of Archetypal Meaning: Apocalyptic and Demonic 

Imagery," pp. 67-66. 
Lindblom, Johannes. "Symbolic Perceptions and Literary Visions," pp. 67-76. 
Freedman, David Noel. "Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: An Essay on 

Biblical Poetry," pp. 77-102. 
Kaiser Jr., Walter C. "The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 

31:31-34," pp. 106-20. 
Collins, John J. "History and Tradition in the Prophet Amos," pp. 121-33. 
Frost, Stanley Brice. "Apocalyptic and History," pp. 134-47. 
Albright, William F. "The Antiquity of Mosaic Law," pp. 148-55. 
Walker, Jr., William O. "The Origin of the Son of Man Concept as Applied 

to Jesus," pp. 156-65. 
Wright, G. Ernest. "What Archaeology Can and Cannot Do," pp. 166-72. 
Mowinckel, Sigmund. "The Method of Cultic Interpretation," pp. 173-90. 
Klein, Ralph W. "Aspects of Intertestamental Messianism," pp. 191-206. 
Roberts, Bleddyn J. "The Old Testament: Manuscripts, Text and Versions," 

pp. 212-34. 
Metzger, Bruce M. "The Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism," pp. 

Frye, Roland Mushat. "The Bible in English," pp. 253-66. 
Kramer, Samuel Noah. "Sumerian Literature and the Bible," pp. 272-84. 
Lambert, W. G. "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," 

pp. 285-97. 
Cox, Roger L. "Tragedy and the Gospel Narratives," pp. 298-317. 
Whallon, William. "Biblical Poetry and Homeric Epic," pp. 318-28. 


Tilborg, S. Van. "A Form-Criticism of the Lord's Prayer," pp. 334-43. 
Perrin, Norman. "Redaction Criticism at Work: A Sample," pp. 344-61. 
Muilenburg, James. "Form Criticism and Beyond," pp. 362-80. 
Burke, Kenneth. "The First Three Chapters of Genesis," pp. 381-95. 
Macquarrie, John. "Symbolism Case Study: Light as a Religious Symbol," 

pp. 396-410. 
Leach, Edmund. "Genesis as Myth," pp. 411-22. 

Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture, ed. by Robert T. Coote 
and John Stott. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 342. $7.95. Paper. 

Neill, Stephen C. "Religion and Culture — A Historical Introduction," pp. 1-16. 

Marshall, I. Howard. "Culture and the New Testament," pp. 17-32. 

Kumar, S. Ananda. "Culture and the Old Testament," pp. 33-48. 

Nicholls, Bruce J. "Towards a Theology of Gospel and Culture," pp. 49-62. 

Padilla, C. Rene. "Hermeneutics and Culture — A Theological Perspective," 
pp. 63-78. 

Taber, Charles R. "Hermeneutics and Culture — An Anthropological Per- 
spective," pp. 79-96. 

Packer, James I. "The Gospel: Its Content and Communication — A Theo- 
logical Perspective," pp. 97-114. 

Loewen, Jacob A. "The Gospel: Its Content and Communication — An 
Anthropological Perspective," pp. 115-30. 

Jacobs, Donald R. "Conversion and Culture — An Anthropological Perspec- 
tive with Reference to East Africa," pp. 131-46. 

Conn, Harvie, M. "Conversion and Culture — A Theological Perspective with 
Reference to Korea," pp. 147-72. 

Costas, Orlando E. "Conversion as a Complex Experience — A Personal Case 
Study," pp. 173-92. 

Cragg, Kenneth. "Conversion and Convertibility — With Special Reference to 
Muslims," pp. 193-210. 

Kraft, Charles H. "The Church in Culture — A Dynamic Equivalance Model," 
pp. 211-30. 

Krass, Alfred C. "Mission as Inter-Cultural Encounter — A Sociological 
Perspective," pp. 231-58. 

Mastra, I. Wayan. "Contextualization of the Church in Bali — A Case Study 
from Indonesia," pp. 259-72. 

Osei-Mensah, Gottfried. "The Christian Life-Style," pp. 273-86. 

Tippett, Alan R. "Contextualization of the Gospel in Fiji — A Case Study 
from Oceania," pp. 287-307. 


In the first issue of this journal, notation was made concerning the recent 
explosion of publishers who are reprinting older works. In that issue, OT 
subjects dominated, while here equal time is given to NT subject areas. The 
volumes will be dealt with in groupings from the publishers, who are 
presented in alphabetical order. First from Alpha publishers: 

Rays of Messiah 's Glory: Christ in the Old Testament by David Baron. 
Winona Lake, IN: Alpha, 1979 [1886]. Pp. 274. $7.95. 

Baron was a converted Russian Jew who experienced fifty years of 
successful Christian ministry. Perhaps the truest description of his work is 
that it was characterized by a zealous warmth not normally found in such 
books. To be sure, his treatment of Christ's Messiahship must be reevaluated 
at various points; on the whole, however, his work is an inspirational and 
biblical study of Christ in the OT. 

Bible studies: Contributions chiefly from Papyri and Inscriptions, by Adolf 
Deissman, Winona Lake, IN: Alpha, 1979 [1901]. Pp. 384. $12.00. 

Originally, this volume was intended to help explain in a totally new 
manner, the relationship of NT Greek to that of extra-biblical Greek; in 
short, it sought to provide a better understanding of koine Greek. For the 
book collector, this first reprint in fifty years should be well received. 

The Revelation of Law in Scripture by Patrick Fairbairn. Winona Lake, IN: 
Alpha, 1979 [1869]. Pp. 484. $13.95. 

Few subjects have been found more difficult to understand than that of 
the relationship of the believer to the law. Fairbairn has provided one of the 
more popular attempts to make that explanation. Originally intended as a 
series of lectures, it grew into a book that has had a long history of 
popularity among students and pastors. 

Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul: I and II Thessalonians, I Corinthians 1-7 , 
Romans 1-7, and Ephesians 1:1-14 by J. B. Lightfoot. Winona Lake, IN: 
Alpha, 1979 [1895]. Pp. 336. $9.95. 

No one who is a student of the Bible needs an introduction to the 
eminent Bishop Lightfoot. These commentaries represent unfinished work 
that was nonetheless published. Like the rest of his work, they are treasured 
by pastors and scholars. 

Meyer's Commentary on the New Testament, by Heinrich August Wilhelm 
Meyer. Winona Lake, IN: Alpha, 1979 [1883]. 11 volumes. $225.00. 

This nineteenth-century Greek scholar was one of the finest commen- 
tators of his time. Indeed, so skillful were his comments that they remain 
highly prized by many pastors and teachers. It has been out of print since 


1906 — a feature which has made original copies expensive. I just noted in a 
used book catalogue that a set missing the Gospel of Mark was offered for 
$150.00! For these reasons, we are glad to see this fine, old set back in print. 

From Baker we have the following: 

The Philosophy of Revelation, by Herman Bavinck. Twin Brooks Series. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 [1909]. Pp. 349. $7.95. Paper. 

There is a timelessness that is characteristic of good theology. It is that 
very timelessness which makes this a useful tool. This Reformed scholar 
traced the idea of revelation and integrated that study with chapters in which 
revelation is studied in light of philosophy (2-3), nature (4), history (5), 
religion (6), Christianity (7), religious experience (8), culture (9), and the 
future (10). 

The John Eadie Greek Text Commentaries, by John Eadie. Galatians through 
Thessalonians. 5 Vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 [1877]. Pp. 1940. $43.75. 

This truly outstanding set recently went out of print. We are grateful to the 
publishers for reprinting the solid work of this brilliant nineteenth-century 
Presbyterian scholar. The exegesis is useful for sermon-building or simply 
feasting on its riches. It should be in every pastor's library (at least for those 
who have had Greek). 

History of Interpretation, by Frederic W. Farrar. Twin Brooks Series. Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1979 [1886]. Pp. 553. $9.95. Paper. 

An original contribution to the Bampton Lectures for 1885, it was a 
model for its diligence and clarity of expression. While our knowledge of 
interpretation in, say, the Rabbinic period (especially because of Qumran), 
has forced a modification of some of the statements, it is still useful, 
especially if used with a more up-to-date work. 

A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: 
Matthew-I Corinthians, by John Lightfoot and edited by Robert Gandell. 4 
Vols, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 1639. $45.00. Paper. 

As Laird Harris stated in the book's introduction, there are two areas of 
abuse concerning the use of the Talmud a a device for adding light to the NT. 
The first is underuse and the second is overuse. A utilization of these volumes 
will help in correcting both. Without any counterpart in English (the only 
other thing comparable is Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck, Kom- 
mentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, 6 Vols. [Munich: 
Beck, 1922-1961]), it is a treasure trove of information that can liven up any 
sermon with some enlightened contributions. The publishers are to be com- 
mended for putting this set back on the market. 


Theories of Revelation: An Historical Study 1700-1960, by H. D. McDonald. 
Twin Brook Series. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 [1963]. Pp. 384. $10.95. 

This volume was originally written as two separate volumes; the first 
covering the years 1700-1860 and the second from 1860-1960. This scholarly 
work is sympathetic to the orthodox view of inspiration of Scripture. It is one 
of the best volumes ever done on revelation and should be well-received by 
the book-buying public because of the present debate over this watershed 

The Epistles of Jude and II Peter, by Joseph B. Mayor. Twin Brook Series. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 [1907]. Pp. 239. $8.95. Paper. 

Anything by this turn-of-the-century divine is worth having. This volume 
is a classic which is marred only by his rejection of Petrine authorship. It is 
highly recommended for any pastor's library. 

Studies in the Gospels, by R. C. Trench. Twin Brook Series. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979 [1874]. Pp. 335. $5.95. Paper. 

The author selected sixteen passages form the Gospels on which to 
comment. Their primary value is for sermon-building. 

Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, by B. F. Westcott. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979 [1906]. Pp. 212. $5.95. Paper. 

Long available in cloth, this very popular commentary is here available 
in paperback. At $5.95, anyone can afford to purchase this excellent com- 

7716" Englishman 's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, by George V. 
Wigram. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 1122. $18.95. Paper. 

For many years, The Englishman 's Greek Concordance of the New 
Testament was a necessary tool for those who were not really comfortable 
with their Greek. This volume is a step ahead of the original. With any one 
who desired to do so, he could make a study of a Greek word without any 
knowledge of Greek because this volume is keyed to Strong's Concordance 
(and also Thaver's Greek Lexicon). Of course, it is expected that shortly the 
student will learn his Greek. 

From Broadman, there is: 

The Works of Flavius Josephus, translated by William Whiston. 4 vols. 
Nashville: Broadman, 1978. $29.95. 

There are few sources for NT backgrounds that are more important than 
Josephus. Certainly, the best known translator was Whiston whose work has 
charmed many readers over the years. This handsomely bound set has an 
advantage over others in that it appears in four volumes. Of course, for 
serious students, the Loeb Classical Library edition is to be preferred. This 
edition, however, will be treasured by all who purchase it. 


By far, the largest number of books received have been from Klock & 
Klock. Their volumes are always carefully chosen, handsomely bound, and 
reasonably priced. 

Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, by J. A. Alexander. Minneapolis: 
Klock & Klock, 1980 [1864]. Pp. 444. $13.95. 

This former Princeton Seminary professor was a competent scholar in 
his era and an efficient writer who produced commentaries on the Psalms, 
Acts, as well as the first sixteen chapters of Matthew. His wrok on Mark is 
useful (especially in light of its reasonable price) but should not be treated as 
a primary commentary. 

The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, by Thomas Dehany 
Bernard. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1896]. Pp. 258. $7.50. 

The contents are taken from a group of lectures the author gave while a 
preacher at Oxford in 1864. It has and will continue to ba a valued addition 
on this neglected area of biblical studies. 

An Exposition of our Lord's Intercessory Prayer, by John Brown. Minne- 
apolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1866]. Pp. 303. $8.95. 

This is a warm and insightful commentary on the seventeenth chapter of 
John's Gospel. It will be helpful for the pastor who is doing an exposition of 
that chapter and is recommended reading on that Gospel. 

The Resurrection of Life: An Exposition of First Corinthians XV, by John 
Brown. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1866]. Pp. 310. $10.95. 

The single most important passage in Scripture on the resurrection of 
Christ has received a scholarly and admirable commentary by John Brown. It 
is highly recommended for the minister's library. 

Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, by Franz Delitzsch. 2 Vols. 
Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1871]. Pp. 401, 492. $24.95. 

It is truly wonderful to see this masterful exposition of Hebrews by that 
renowned Semitist Delitzsch on print. The exegesis is first rate and directed 
at understanding a text rather unlike so many modern works on Hebrews. As 
a convert to Christianity from Judaism, the author was able to draw from the 
rich well of Jewish literature. I know of no finer treatment of Hebrews than 

A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Thomas Charles 
Edwards. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1979 [1885]. Pp. 491. $14.75. 

This was a major exegetical commentary which was fully conversant 
with the literature of the past and the present. It can be of good use to both 
the pastor and the teacher and it is a pleasure to see it here reprinted. 


The Background of the Gospels, by William Fairweather. Minneapolis: 
Klock & Klock, 1977 [1920]. Pp. 456. $12.50. The Background of the Epistles 
by William Fairweather. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1977 [1935]. Pp. 399. 

So much has changed in the last fifty years of the world of scholarship 
that it redounds to a book's credit that it can still be found useful. Such can 
be said for these two volumes whose titles intimate the contents. The purpose 
for the work on the Gospels was to chronicle through a study on the 
intertestamental period how the world was being prepared for the coming of 
Christ. The same method is followed in the work on the Epistles. He studies 
the background from a historical, literary, religious, and doctrinal per- 
spective. He concludes that the divine Spirit was responsible for the greater 
understanding of the working of God in the Epistles. 

A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, by Paton 
J. Gloag. 2 Vols. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1979 [1870]. Pp. 439, 456. 

Gloag was a Scottish Presbyterian who pastored for most of his life. At 
the tender age of 73, he bacame a professor at the University of Aberdeen. 
Quite unlike most ministers today, he wrote prolifically and studied in such a 
way that the transition from pulpit to classroom was easily made. He has left 
us here with a fine, exegetical treatment of Acts which can be used with 

The Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by H. P. Liddon. 
Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1867]. Pp. 585. $16.95. 

Liddon was a prolific scholar and pastor who had left us here his 
magnum opus — a stout defense of the divinity of Christ. Originally, this book 
was delivered as the Bampton Lectures at Oxford in 1866. No serious student 
can study that doctrine without making reference to this volume. 

Lectures on the First and Second Epistles of Peter, by John Lillie. Minne- 
apolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1869]. Pp. 536. $16.50. 

While most of these reprints have been of works by authors from the 
British Isles, Lillie was an American scholar who did the translation work on 
the Thessalonian Epistles in Lange's Commentary. His work here is one of 
the solid exegesis characterized by a faithfulness to the text. 

An Exposition of the Epistle of Jude, by Thomas Manton. Minneapolis: 
Klock & Klock, 1978 [1658]. Pp. 376. $9.50. 

This Calvinistic Puritan scholar was one of the most eloquent of the 
seventeenth-century writers. His work would today probably fit into a 
theological rather than exegetical category. 

Epistles of St. Jude and the Second Epistle of St. Peter, by Joseph B. Mayor. 
Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1907]. Pp. 239. $12.50. 

Also in paperback (see earlier under Baker's reprints) this is quite a 
bargain at $12.50 and comes highly recommended. 


The History of the Puritans, by Daniel Neal. 3 Vols. Minneapolis: Klock & 
Klock, 1979 [1837]. Pp. 637, 704, 636. $49.95. 

Massive in scope, this work has been (and because of this new printing) 
will continue to be one of the best histories available. As a history, it 
chronicles a history of nonconformity from the Reformation to the Act of 
Toleration (1689). That in this country there is an aversion ;to historical 
studies of any kind may be readily seen by counting the number of history 
majors in any univeristy. This sad disinterest is to our own peril as a country. 
Nowhere is this more important than in the struggle for religious freedom 
with which these volumes are concerned. It should be mandatory reading for 
every American. 

The Antichrist, by Arthur W. Pink. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1979. 
[1923]. Pp. 308. $9.50. 

The present work is characteristic of the popular writer A. W. Pink in 
that it is emminently readable. The book is a collection of his articles in his 
own magazine, Studies in the Scriptures. It is a solid study written on a 
popular level. 

A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, by Wm. M. 
Ramsay. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1900]. Pp. 478. $14.25. 

Originally written to solve the Galatian controversy by arguing for a 
Southern View, the volume also casts light on the Apostle Paul and the book 
of Acts. This was the work which won over most Biblicists to the Southern 
View. It is not, nor was it intended to be a commentary. On the other hand, it 
informs the reader in a way that conventional commentaries cannot. 

Christ in His Suffering, by K. Schilder. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 
[1938]. Pp. 467. Christ on Trial, 1978 [1939]. Pp. 539. Christ Crucified, 1978 
[1940]. Pp. 561. The set, $39.95. 

This fine work, a so-called "Lenten trilogy," creatively studied the events 
of that last week of our Lord's life on earth. It rightly belongs in the genre of 
"devotional" literature; yet, it rises above nearly all such volumes. This is 
devotional material at its best; it majestically calls forth the believer to a 
higher standing. It should be recommended reading for both pastors and 
informed laymen. 

A Critical and Doctrinal Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the 
Romans, by William G. T. Shedd. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1879]. 
Pp. 439. 

The great pastor and scholar Shedd is better known for his Dogmatic 
Theology, although the former Union Seminary professor has also left us 
here with a worthy exegetical commentary on Romans. This volume is 
characteristic of that high level of accomplishment which characterized 
nineteenth-century scholarship. 


Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, by R. C. Trench. 
Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978 [1879]. Pp. 250. $6.95. 

This is a lesser known work of the famous scholar which, nonetheless, is 
a solid exegesis of the first three chapters of Revelation. He held to the view 
that the churches represent different ages. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, by B. F. Westcott. Minneapolis: Klock & 
Klock, 1978 [1906]. Pp. 212. $7.95. 

The incredibly popular Westcott continues to appeal to pastors and 
scholars to this day. This volume is identical in style and content to those of 
his other works. At $7.95, it is a bargain. 

Introduction to the New Testament, by Theodor Zahn. 3 Vols. Minneapolis: 
Klock & Klock, 1977 [1909]. Pp. 564, 617, 539. $39.95. 

The reprinting of this massive set (last done in 1953) is a welcome aid to 
students and pastors alike. It is characterized by a conservative treatment of 
the text, a feature which has contributed to its timeless appeal. While one 
should never fail to consult the newer introductions, neither should one 
ignore the contributions of this author. 

From Kregel publishers, we have the following volumes: 

Studies in Acts, by William Arnot. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978 [1883]. Pp. 
464. $10.95. 

This is a devotional commentary by a nineteenth-century pastor who 
ministered in Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Free Church Movement. It 
could be a useful aid to those with no Greek. 

The Training of the Twelve, by A. B. Bruce. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1971 
[1871]. Pp. 552. $6.95. Paper. 

This volume is still today regarded by many as the classic work on 
discipleship. Unlike so many "how to" books from today's market, this one 
has depth and should comfort the mind of many a pastor. 

Great Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews Eleven, by E. W. Bullinger. Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1979 [1911]. Pp. 462. $7.95. 

Probably it is the warmth and fervor of Bullinger's style that has kept 
him popular far beyond his time. Here, he draws upon his personal scholar- 
ship to interpret Hebrews 1 1 . The result is a readable and devotional tour 
through the catalogue of saints. 

The Giver and His Gifts, or The Holy Spirit and His Work, by E. W. 
Bullinger. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1979 [1905]. Pp. 223. $5.95. Paper. 


The layout of this volume is simple; all but 40 pages of the book are 
given over to a verse commentary wherever pneuma appears. While I would 
prefer TDNT, some will, no doubt, find this volume attractive because of his 
dispensationalism. An attractive feature of the book is a well-developed 

The First Epistle of John, by Robert S. Candlish. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 
1979 [1877]. Pp. 577. $12.95. 

This exposition of 1 John comes from the mid-nineteenth-century pen of 
Robert Candlish, who was a leader of the Free Church in Scotland and, later, 
principal of New College in Edinburgh. The commentary is devotional in 
character and often hortatory in content. 

Commentary on John's Gospel, by F. L. Godet. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978 
[1886]. Pp. 1112. $19.95. 

It is with gladness that we welcome again into print the massive 
commentary on John by Godet, one of the most prominent of the Swiss 
Protestant Reform scholars. The work is exegetical in its exposition as well as 
heartwarming. While it must stand behind some of the newer works (such as 
Morris), it should be allowed to stand. 

Commentary on Hebrews, by William Gouge. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1980 
[1866]. Pp. 1148. $22.95. 

This massive work on Hebrews from the pen of the sixteenth-century 
pastor and scholar will probably be welcomed by the bibliophile alone. 
Competitors for first place on Hebrews are many and mighty. Against that 
type of competition, the old work cannot stand; however, it is good to see it 
in print again. 

The Theocratic Kingdom, by George N. H. Peters. 3 Vols. Grand Rapids: 
Kregel, 1978 [1884]. Pp. 694, 780, 701. $49.95. 

Without question, this well-known (but underread!) volume is the finest 
product of nineteenth-century premillennial scholarship. While often tedious 
reading, it cannot be ignored by proponents or opponents. It set a standard 
of excellence which twentieth-century premillennial scholarship should strive 
to achieve. 

The Gospel of Matthew, by David Thomas. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1979 
[1873]. Pp. 560. $12.95. 

David Thomas was a Congregationalist from South Wales who entered 
the Independent ministry in 1841. For 29 years he was minister at the 
Stockwell Independent Church in London. The approach is topical and more 
concerned with application than interpretation; hence, many interpretive 
problems are overlooked. 


ADAMS, J. MCKEE. Biblical Backgrounds. Nashville: Broadman, 1965. Pp. 
231. $9.75. 

BARTH, KARL. Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963. Pp. 
206. $5.95. Paper. 

BAVINCK, HERMAN. The Philosophy of Revelation. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979. Pp. 349. $7.95. Paper. 

BELCHER, RICHARD P. A Layman's Guide to the Inerrancy Debate. 
Chicago: Moody, 1980. Pp. 80. N.P. Paper. 

BENSON, WARREN. The Key to Sunday School Achievement. Chicago: 
Moody, 1980. Pp. 110. $4.95. Paper. 

BROMILEY, GEOFFREY W. Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. 253. $7.95. Paper. 

BRUCE, F. F. Peter, Stephen, James, and John: Studies in Early Non- 
Pauline Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. 159. $7.95. 

BUSHNELL, HORACE. Christian Nurture. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. 
Pp. 407. $7.95. Paper. 

CRISWELL, W. A. Did Man Just Happen? Chicago: Moody, 1980. Pp. 127. 
$2.25. Paper. 

DAANE, JAMES. Preaching with Confidence: a Theological Essay on the 
Power of the Pulpit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 80. $3.95. 

DANA, H. E. The New Testament World. Nashville: Broadman, 1937. Pp. 

267. $7.95. 

DELAMONT, VIC. The Ministry of Music in the Church. Chicago: 
Moody, 1980. Pp. 160. $5.95. Paper. 

ECK, JOHN. Enchiridion of Commonplaces. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. 
Pp. 312. $9.95. Paper. 

FARRAR, FREDERICK W. History of Interpretation. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979. Pp. 553. $9.95. Paper. 

FEINBERG, CHARLES L. God Remembers. Portland, OR: Multnomah 

1979. Pp. 229. $12.95. 

FINNEY, CHARLES G. The Promise of The Spirit. Minneapolis: Bethany 
Fellowship, 1980. Pp. 265. N.P. Paper. 

GROMACKI, ROBERT G. Stand Fast in Liberty: An Exposition of 
Galations. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 199. $5.95. Paper. 

HOUSTON, JAMES M. / Believe in the Creator. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

1980. Pp. 287. $4.95. Paper. 


JOCZ, JAKOB. The Jewish People and Jesus Christ: The Relationship 
Between Church and Synagogue. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 448. 
$7.95. Paper. 

JULIEN, TOM. Studies in Exodus. Winona Lake, IN.: BMH, 1979. Pp. 
154. $3.95. Paper. 

DU MAS, FRANK M. Gay is Not Good. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979. 
Pp. 331. $11.95. 

MOODY, DWIGHT L. Notes From the Bible and Thoughts From My 
Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 396. $12.95. 

NIDA, EUGENE A. et al. What Bible Can You Trust? Nashville: Broadman, 
1974. Pp. 116. $2.95. Paper. 

PACHE, RENE. The Future Life. Chicago: Moody, 1962. Pp. 376. $6.95. 

PETRY, RONALD D. Partners in Creation. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1980. 
Pp. 126. $4.95. Paper. 

PFEIFFER, CHARLES F. The Biblical World: A Dictionary of Biblical 
Archaeology. Nashville: Broadman, 1976. Pp. 640. $14.95. 

MACARTHUR, JOHN. Kingdom Living Here and Now. Chicago: Moody, 
1980. Pp. 186. $8.95. 

MCALLISTER, DAWSON, and WEBSTER, DAN. Discussion Manual 
for Student Relationships. Chicago: Moody, 1979. Pp. 181. $7.95. Paper. 

MCALLISTER, DAWSON, and WEBSTER, DAN. Discussion Manual 
for Student Discipleship. Vols. 1-2. Chicago: Moody, 1979. Pp. 190 and 
162. $6.95 each. Paper. 

MCALLISTER, DAWSON. Discussion Manual of Student Relationships, 
Teachers Guide. Chicago: Moody, 1979. Pp. 118. $5.95. Paper. 

MARTIN, RALPH P. The Family and the Fellowship. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. 142. $4.95. Paper. 

PRATT, RICHARD L. Every Thought Captive. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyte- 
rian and Reformed, 1979. Pp. 142. $3.95. Paper. 

QUAYLE, WILLIAM A. The Pastor- Preacher. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. 
Pp. 327. $6.95. Paper. 

QUISPEL, GILLES. The Secret Book of Revelation. New York: McGraw- 
Hill, 1979. Pp. 192. $39.95. 

RAD, GERHARD VON. God at Work in Israel. Nashville: Abingdon, 1980. 
Pp. 223. $6.95. Paper. 

ROBERTSON, IRVINE. What The Cults Believe. Chicago: Moody, 1979. 
Pp. 154. $6.95. 

ROHRBAUGH, RICHARD L. Into All The World. Nashville: Abingdon, 
1976. Pp. 172. $5.95. Paper. 


SCROGGIE, W. GRAHAM. Tested by Temptation. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 
1958. Pp. 76. $2.50. Paper. 

SCROGGIE, W. GRAHAM. The Love Life: I Corinthians 13. Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1935. Pp. 95. $2.50. Paper. 

SMITH, WILBUR M. Biblical Doctrine of Heaven. Chicago: Moody, 1980. 
Pp. 317. $5.95. Paper. 

SOLMSEN, FRIEDRICH. Is is Among The Greeks & Romans. Cambridge: 
Harvard University, 1979. Pp. 157. $12.50. 

SUMMERS, RAY. Essentials of New Testament Greek. Nashville: Broad- 
man, 1950. Pp. 171. $7.95. 

TANNER, JERALD and SANDRA. The Changing World of Mormonism. 
Chicago: Moody, 1980. Pp. 592. $11.95. Paper. 

WIEAND, DAVID J. Visions of Glory. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1979. Pp. 
132. $4.95. Paper. 

WIGRAM, GEORGE V. The Englishman's Greek Concordance. Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 1122. $18.95. Paper. 



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